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Meaning of “thing” in the English Dictionary

"thing" in British English

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thingnoun

uk   /θɪŋ/ us   /θɪŋ/
  • thing noun (OBJECT)

A1 [C] used to refer in an approximate way to an object or to avoid naming it: What's that thing over there? There are some nice things in the shops this summer. I don't eat sweet things (= sweet food). How does this stupid thing work?
things [plural]

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A1 UK your possessions or a particular set of your possessions: All their things were destroyed in the fire. Bring your swimming things if the weather's nice.
a particular set of objects: Let me help you clear away the tea things (= cups, plates, etc. that are used for having tea).

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  • thing noun (IDEA/EVENT)

A2 [C] used to refer in an approximate way to an idea, subject, event, action, etc.: That was an unkind thing to say. I've got so many things to do I don't know where to start. Your information is correct but you left out one thing. "What's the matter?" "It's this insurance thing. I'm really worried about it."
the thing [C]
the exact fact, object, idea, event, etc.: The article was exactly the thing I needed for my research.
the real thing
something that is not false or a copy: The fire alarm goes off accidentally so often that when it's the real thing (= when it really does happen) nobody will take any notice.
the same thing
B1 the same: Training isn't the same thing as education.
the whole thing
B2 everything that has been planned or discussed: Let's call the whole thing off. I want to forget the whole thing.
above all things
more than everything else: I value my freedom above all things.
in all things
in every situation or subject; in everything: Be true to yourself in all things.
if there's one thing I want to know, find out, etc.
said before describing what it is that you especially want to know: If there's one thing I want to know, it's where he goes on Thursday afternoons.

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  • thing noun (SITUATION)

things B1 [plural]
used to refer to the general situation: Things have been going very well recently.
it's a good thing
B2 If it's a good thing that something happened, it is lucky that it happened: It's a good thing (that) we booked our tickets early.
the way things are also as things stand
in the present situation: The way things are, I'll never have this ready by June.
  • thing noun (ANYTHING/EVERYTHING)

a thing B1 [S]

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used instead of "anything" or "everything" to emphasize what you are saying: Don't worry about a thing (= anything). I'll take care of it.
not a (single) thing
B2 not anything: After the guests had gone, there wasn't a thing left to eat.
not have a thing to wear B1 also have nothing to wear humorous
to have no clothes that are suitable for an occasion: I'm going to a wedding on Saturday and I don't have a thing to wear.
there isn't a thing you can do
you cannot do anything: He broke his promise and there wasn't a thing we could do about it.
  • thing noun (PERSON/ANIMAL)

B2 [C] used after an adjective to refer to a person or animal with love or sympathy: The poor things were kept in small cages without room to move. [as form of address] I can't believe you won - you lucky thing!
(Definition of thing from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"thing" in American English

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thingnoun [C]

us   /θɪŋ/
  • thing noun [C] (OBJECT)

a device, product, or part of nature that is not named: There’s a new thing that seals plastic bags. There are some nice things in the stores on sale right now.
your things
Your things are your small personal possessions: Get your things together and we’ll leave.
  • thing noun [C] (ANY POSSIBILITY)

an event, thought, subject of discussion, or possibility: A strange thing happened on my way to work today. I have a few things to bring up at the next meeting. Don’t worry about a thing – it’s all under control.
Things can refer to a situation in general: Things have been going really well for us this year.
  • thing noun [C] (PERSON/ANIMAL)

a person or animal: When did you eat last, you poor thing? Note: This is used to refer to a person or animal affectionately or sympathetically.
(Definition of thing from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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