May 10, 2010


Summary: You may think today's vocabulary word post is a cop-out, but it's really no such thing! Read on to learn more about an everyday word with a lot of different uses.

I asked my husband today what this week's vocabulary word should be, and he comically replied, "Thing!" The fact is, it's one of his favorite words, and it's a great standby for a lot of people I know (myself included). Maybe it is for you, too--when the word you really want is on the tip of your tongue, perhaps? Thing is a great substitute then. In fact, it's great for a whole lot of words!

Just for fun, I looked it up in my favorite online dictionary,, and guess what? The word thing has ten definitions! I was surprised, especially when I started reading them.

But before I get into that, here's thing's etymology:

From Middle English, thing (sounding just like it's spelled) entered the contemporary English language before the Twelfth Century. Originally from the Gothic word for time, it transmuted into Old High German as ding and then into today's thing.

Now, let's look at only half of the definitions. (To get the other half, check out the link above):

(1) a matter of concern, such as a situation or event ("How are things with you?" or "That oil spill thing sure is tragic");
(2) a deed, act or accomplishment (as in, "I see you doing great things in the future");
(3) possessions, effects ("She packed her things and headed out the door");
(4) a miscellaneous object or object unable to be categorized ("Use this thing for now");
(5) a mild obsession or phobia; conversely, a specialty or forte (as in, "She has this thing about germs" versus "Cooking is his thing").

Can you guess which thing best defines my husband's favorite use of this very versatile word?

Oh, and here's one more thing: The interesting thing about thing is it's always a noun, so it's never conjugated into anything else (besides something or nothing or little things like that). What do you think about thing?

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