Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
I often hear people saying:” You’ve got another thing coming.” I’m sure it should be: “You’ve got another think coming.”
For example: “If you think I’m going to clean up after you, you’ve got another thing/think coming.”
Welcome to the Eggcorn website, lilypilly. You’re certainly right about the thing/think mixup. This was discussed a bit in this forum here:
Thing or think? by Khomans Contribute! 2 2006-06-20 07:45:26 by katmeat
(I myself was quite surprised to learn that the original expression is “you’ve got another think coming” —rather than with “thing” substituted.)
Does anyone have more information than that? How was it decided that ‘think’ is the original?
Patschwieterman did a little research on this topic here in the Forum. I’ve reproduced his comments below (which were tucked in the “bum steer” post)....
This is interesting. I’ve gone looking for “another think/thing coming” before, and if I remember correctly, the authorities I’ve found assure us that “think” preceded “thing” and that “think” is the standard form. And sure enough, the OED says that “thing” is a misapprehension of “think” (see the bracketed comment in the second OED quotation below). But guess what? I decided to go look at their “thing” article, and the earliest citation for “thing coming” predates the earliest for “think” by 18 years. Of course, that doesn’t prove that “think” didn’t precede “thing” in speech, but I wish they’d given a little more information. Here are the entries:
b. to have another think coming: to be greatly mistaken. 1937 Amer. Speech XII. 317/1 Several different statements used for the same idea that of some one’s making a mistake…[e.g.] you have another think coming. 1942 T. BAILEY Pink Camellia xxvii. 199 If you think you can get me out of Gaywood, you have another think coming. 1979 Jrnl. R. Soc. Arts CXXVII. 221/2 Any design consultant who thinks he is going to get British Leyland right by himself on his own has got another think coming.
to have another thing coming [arising from misapprehension of to have another think coming s.v. THINK n. 2b] = to have another think coming s.v. THINK n. 2b. 1919 Syracuse (N.Y.) Herald 12 Aug. 8/3 If you think the life of a movie star is all sunshine and flowers you’ve got another thing coming. 1959 Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada) Herald 22 Aug. 20/3 Magistrate Edward Robey told them: ‘Please tell your friends in France that if any more come over here thinking they can put money in slot machines and get money galore, they have got another thing coming.’ 1971 N.Y. Times 26 Feb. 37/4 One of those taken into custody identified himself as ‘very prominent in the community’ and declared, ‘After this, if the police think they are getting a raise they’ve got another thing coming.’ 1981 J. SULLIVAN Only Fools & Horses (1999) I. 1st Ser. Episode 1. 57 Del. If you think I’m staying in a lead-lined nissan hut with you and Grandad and a chemical bloody khazi you’ve got another thing coming. 1998 A. O’HANLON Talk of Town (1999) I. iv. 60 If you think you’re getting into my knickers, you have another thing coming.
The ‘thing’ version makes very little sense to me having been raised on ‘another think coming’, but I am fascinated that others find it difficult to digest. Is it its nounish guise that causes problems? Do AmEnglish users never ‘have a think’? – for if you can have one think, surely the prospect of another think coming presents no difficulties whatsoever?
No, Peter, we don’t have thinks. We “think about it” or “give it some thought”. I can’t think of when we use “think” as a noun. It’s funny, really, some of the common, mundane things we take for granted as being mutually employed. I saw Posh on the tele last night with Leno, when he asked her if she and her husband had ever given the paparazzi “a slip”, “What’s “a slip”?”, she asked. “Hide, avoid, dodge.”, he answered, alerting me to the fact that the phrase must not be common in England. Funny, because it sounds so English…
Thanks for “bringing us up to speed”(if that means anything), or, er, keeping us abreast of our eclectic particulars.
Incidentally, had that Posh person been asked about the slip rather than a slip she’d have understood perfectly. ( And if you kind Americans would like to keep the pair of them, many of us over here would be deeply grateful.)
That explains it. Contrary to Leno’s utterance, “the” slip is the convention here, too. I was wondering if the “a” through her for a loop. Being native, I knew he must have meant “the slip”. Being from overseas, who knows what to think about these Americans?
In a Language Log post a few days ago, Mark Liberman talked about the “thing/think” problem and pointed out the same discrepancy in the OED citations that I talked about in the post Jorkel quoted above. After providing a “think” citation that antedates any of the evidence in the either of the two OED articles, Liberman concludes:
So it seems that as with “home/hone in on”, the two versions of this expression have been more or less in sociological equilibrium since the beginning.
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/language … .html#more
The nice thing about being Mark Liberman (rather than, say, me) is that when you point out a disparity between OED articles, a member of the OED editorial staff pops up the next day to explain what’s going on. Ben Zimmer’s response post is hard to link to, so I’ve given it below. Unfortunately, I can’t include the two early citations for “another think coming” that Zimmer refers to, so if you’re interested you’ll just have to go to the main Language Log page here (http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/) and do a search for “Have another think”. Here’s what I can give you of the post:
Have another think
Mark wonders why the OED claims “have another thing coming” is derived from “have another think coming,” and yet provides a first citation of the former from 1919 and of the latter only from 1937. The truth is, the updating of the OED takes place in piecemeal fashion, and not every entry can be replenished with new findings at the same time. When the OED first added “have another thing coming” to the entry for thing in 2004, the earliest citation given was from 1981. That was quickly antedated, first by Jesse Sheidlower with a cite from 1959, and then by me with a cite from 1919. So the thing entry was revised yet again to incorporate the new antedatings. The entry for think, however, hasn’t been touched for quite a while. When it’s finally updated, it can include cites much earlier than the one from 1937. I’ve reproduced the earliest cites I’ve found so far on the right. The first is from the Washington Post of April 29, 1897, and the second is from the Chicago Daily Tribune of September 24, 1898. But I certainly don’t expect those first cites to stand for very long, as digitized databases of newspapers, magazines, and books continue to expand at a rapid pace.
Posted by Benjamin Zimmer at 09:22 AM
The new evidence that Zimmer and Liberman contribute seems to confirm that “another think” was the original form, but as MYL says, eggcorns often seem to come into existence soon after the original idioms they reshape.
Oddly enough, just last night I came across a sentence in S J Perelman’s ‘Westward Ha!’ which leans on the ‘think’ template, suggesting it was not uncommon in the States in the late 1940s:
“Its people were cordial and colorful, its atmosphere civilized, and its climate soothing, and if anyone is disposed to link my name with the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, he has another link coming.”
I don’t have much to back me up here other than what seems to me to be logic. The beginning of the sentence always starts with “If you THINK ‘X,’ than you have ANOTHER THINK coming.” Not, “If you thing ‘X,” you have another thing coming.” A contrast is drawn between the (apparently erroneous) thinking or assumption of the hearer of this statement and the (correct) thinking of the speaker, which the hearer will (we hope) eventually ascribe to.
If the correct or original statement is “thing,” what IS that thing, exactly? It makes no sense if you ‘thing’ about it…..
On the other hand, it is normal that the hearer of a statement like that could HEAR thing because we tend to say “think” as “THING-K” and the “K” ellides (is that the right word or spelling?) on to the “C” in coming. “Another thingKcoming.”
Feeling quite combobulated.
Hey there, former neighbor….
I see your logic about “thought.” The only thing I can think is that the “think” here is equivalent to the British (colloquial?) usage of think as a time of thinking. (See Peter’s comment below on “having a think.”)
But if it’s “thing,” then can someone please explain what the thing is supposed to be? It just doesn’t make sense to me… I can’t think of another use of thing that would be equivalent. And why “another” thing? Wouldn’t that imply that there already was a thing in that sentence?
(Edit) It just occurred to me that one source of the thing/think “controversy” is the expression we’ve probably all heard in old movies or read in books…. A character is on a tirade with another character as the target…. He lists one grievance after another: “I’ve had it up to here with (blah, blah, blah)!” Then, after a pause or some response from the other character, he adds, vehemently: “And another thing! I’m sick and tired of (blah, blah, blah)...”
Could this figure of speech be the basis for the argument for “another thing”?
Last edited by JonW719 (2007-10-08 15:20:29)
Feeling quite combobulated.
I don’t have any trouble with the bad grammar in the expression “you have another thing coming.” This a successful eggcorn because people relate to the imagery. And which imagery am I refering to? The one that JonW719 just mentioned;
“And another thing!...
I see someone else has pointed out that Leno probably confused Posh by using the idiom “give [someone] the slip” improperly.
The “thing” never made sense to me, bcs I was raised on the proper terminology, “think,” and always thought of that noun-ism as jocular.
But that IS the only place that you use “think” as a noun, almost.
Like TootsNYC, I’ve always assumed that the nouning of “think” was intended to be humorous (or perhaps mocking). The earliest citations anyone has yet come up with are from editorial comments in American newspapers of the 1890s. And that makes good sense to me—the editorial pages of many newspapers of the period were full of wordplay, current slang, dialect humor, etc., and “another think coming” fits in well with that context.
I’ve never thought about it before, but I wonder whether that slangy, playful approach of some sports columnists isn’t descended from the more freewheeling journalistic style of an earlier era.
I thing—I mean, I think—the eggcorn in caused by a pronunciation issue similar to duct/duck tape. Because the last syllable in the first word and the first syllable in the second word share a consonant, you need to make a special effort to articulate the end of the first word, which is somewhat tedious. But if you run them together, it sounds like “thing coming”.
Welcome to the forum, zftcg. I think you’re right on the money that this is the source of our confusion.
Feeling quite combobulated.
An old dog can continue to learn language!
For nearly 50 years, I thought the phrase was “another thing coming,” and because I hadn’t heard the correct “another think coming,” the “thing” thing made sense to me: If one’s idea was incorrect, then the “thing” that would come was not going to be what he expected. But now that I know, “think” does make more sense!
If at first you don’t succeed, think, think again.