Thursday, April 07, 2011

Dismissive "thing"

Again, following up on a Mark Liberman post, "The thing thing", this morning, I went looking for early instances of the dismissive use of thing, as in I'm not too keen on that vision thing. The first clear instance I found was from a 1914 playscript by Eugene Gladstone O'Neill, The Movie Man. Referring to the planned execution of Fernandez, Devlin says, "Don’t forget to have Gomez postpone that shooting thing."

I also searched the COCA and COHA for [th* NOUN thing], which obviously has other uses, and came up with the following time and genre distributions, which are, I suppose, pretty much what you'd expect.

I've also added an entry for this meaning in the English Wiktionary.

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