Thing (assembly)

Germanic thing, drawn after the depiction in a relief of the Column of Marcus Aurelius (193  CE)

A thing ŋ/, also known as Alþing, was the governing assembly of a northern Germanic society, made up of the free people of the community presided over by lawspeakers. The word appears in Old Norse, Old English, and modern Icelandic as þing (where þ is pronounced like unvoiced "th" /θ/), in Middle English (as in modern English), Old Saxon, Old Dutch, and Old Frisian as thing, in Old High German, Middle High German, Pennsylvania Dutch, Middle Dutch, modern Dutch, and Afrikaans as ding and modern German as Ding, and in modern Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Faroese, Gutnish, and Norn as ting, all from a reconstructed Proto-Germanic neuter *þingą; the word is the same as the more common English word thing, both having at their heart the basic meaning of "an assemblage, a coming together of parts"—in the one case, an "assembly" or "meeting", in the other, an "entity", "object", or "thing". The meeting-place of a thing was called a "thingstead" (Old English þingstede) or "thingstow" (Old English þingstōw).

The Anglo-Saxon folkmoot t/ ( Old English folcgemōt, "folk meeting"; Middle English folkesmōt; modern Norwegian folkemøte) was analogous, the forerunner to the witenagemōt and a precursor of the modern Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Today the term lives on in the English term hustings, in the official names of national legislatures and political and judicial institutions of Nordic countries and, in the Manx form tyn, as a term for the three legislative bodies on the Isle of Man.


The Old Norse, Old Frisian, and Old English þing with the meaning "assembly" is identical in origin to the English word thing, German Ding, Dutch ding, and modern Scandinavian ting when meaning "object". [1] All of these terms derive from Proto-Germanic *þingą meaning "appointed time", and some[ who?] suggest an origin in Proto-Indo-European *ten-, "stretch", as in a "stretch of time for an assembly". [1] The word shift in the meaning of the word thing from "assembly" to "object" is mirrored in the evolution of the Latin causa ("judicial lawsuit") to modern French chose, Spanish/ Italian/ Catalan cosa, and Portuguese coisa (all meaning "object" or "thing"). [1] A word with similar meaning, the cognate to English sake (purpose), sak in Norwegian and Swedish, sag in Danish, zaak in Dutch, and Sache in German, still retains the meaning "affair, matter" alongside "thing, object".

In English the term is attested from 685 to 686  CE in the older meaning "assembly"; later it referred to a being, entity or matter (sometime before 899), and then also an act, deed, or event (from about 1000). The early sense of "meeting, assembly" did not survive the shift to Middle English. [2] The meaning of personal possessions, commonly in the plural, first appears in Middle English around 1300. [3]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Þing
العربية: ثينج
беларуская: Тынг
català: Thing
čeština: Thing
Deutsch: Thing
eesti: Ting
español: Thing
français: Thing
Gaelg: Thing
한국어: 팅그
íslenska: Þing
italiano: Thing
magyar: Ting
Nederlands: Ding (rechtspraak)
日本語: ディング
norsk nynorsk: Ting
polski: Ting
português: Ting
русский: Тинг
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ting
suomi: Ting
svenska: Allting
українська: Тінґ
中文: 庭 (機關)