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March 11, 2005



You might have heard people arguing for the 'think' analysis. But you've got another hear coming.
You might have seen it defended on the internet. But you've got another see coming.

I'll have to have another think about this.


I've never heard or seen "think." Which pretty much settles it.


"Thing". Definitely.
I "think" the Ross McDonald usage was a "joke"


"You've got another think coming" doesn't even make sense. Not that this ever stopepd any musician before, but still. Substituting think for thing implies a sophistication of wordplay that strikes me as unlikely. Heavy Metal musicians, especially from the seventies, aren't known for their witty lyrical word play but for the balls out attitude. yelling, "You've got another thing coming!" make smore sense, as it feeds the metal ethos.


I'm a 'think' person, to the point where I'm actually surprised that 'thing' isn't a simple error, like "hone in on". Does everyone else think the phase means something like "You are in error, and will soon be forced to reevaluate your position"? Or does it mean something different to 'thing' people?


I can't really construe a grammatical reading with 'think'. What can it mean?
Look, here comes another think! They told me I had one coming.


"Think" is ungrammatical, but it makes more sense than "thing" -- that which is coming isn't just any"thing", but particularly a reevaluation of one's beliefs. While describing a reevaluation of one's beliefs as a "think" is non-standard, it's a fairly clear and reasonable non-standard usage.

Kip Manley

"Think" is clearly a play on "thing." This is hardly a chicken-and-egg proposition, if you're trying to suss out which cropped up first. —If you're trying to figure out which is the more satisfying, well, de gustibus, baby. De gustibus. (But "think" is clearly a punning play on "thing," and we all know what they say about puns and the people who prefer them.)


Except that I can't see "You've got another thing coming" as the original form of the cliche, because it doesn't in any way mean what the cliche means (in my idiolect, at least). "You've got another thing coming" is a perfectly well-formed sentence, as in the dialogue:

"Is this all of my things?"

"No, look down the conveyor belt. You've got another thing coming."

However, there's nothing in the sentence to indicate that 'thing' refers to a reevaluation of one's beliefs, as it must if the cliche is to have the meaning that I believe it does. In the absence of any such indication, how can 'thing' be the original form of the cliche?


It doesn't seem too hard to me.
You have an opinion. Perhaps your opinion is based on ideas, evidence, whatever. Let's call these things 'things'. But wait! another thing is coming that will force you to reconsider your opinion.

Aeon J. Skoble

Consider the context: "You've got another thin* coming" typically follows the discovery that the other person is under some misconception -- e.g. "What?? You think the earth is flat? Man, you got another thin* coming!" In any context like this, "thing" makes zero sense, and "think" does. That that's ungrammatical is irrelevant to what the (obviously idiomatic) expression is meant to express: if you think x, you've got another think coming = x is wrong, so I suggest you think about it some more.


BTW, for "there's nothing in the sentence to indicate that 'thing' refers to a reevaluation of one's beliefs, as it must if the cliche is to have the meaning that I believe it does", see Grice.


Think. Totally.

Googlefight also has "could care less" *shudder* beating "couldn't care less." Don't trust the proles.

Richard Zach

The OED gives it to think. Who'd have thunk? (Not I)

think, n. 2.b. to have another think coming: to be greatly mistaken.

1937 Amer. Speech XII. 317/1 Several different statements used for the same idea{em}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.


thing, n. 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.


I'd buy 'thing' as the original form, if I'd ever heard a longer version of the cliche that disambiguated 'thing' -- e.g., "You've got another thing coming that will straighten you out." If the cliche isn't a cropped version of a long form, I can't see Grice's axiom of relevance as sufficient to disambiguate 'thing'. 'Thing' as referring to a mental state or piece of information just strikes me as non-standard enough that I can't picture comprehending it in the absence of prior knowledge of the meaning of the cliche.

I could be wrong, and often am, but I'm certain.


I'm intrigued by this tribe of 'think' people who live amongst us. How do you feel about examples where the antecedent verb is not 'think'?
- If you believe that, you've got another think coming.

Or how about:
- If you think that's the last thing, you've got another thin* coming.


Hah! Thank you, RZ (and the OED).

ben wolfson

I believe there was an Ask Metafilter or Metafilter thread in which this very issue was settled to my satisfaction, but I can't remember what the outcome was. Anyway, I'm with Skoble in theory ("if that's what you think...") but in practice I probably say "thing", possibly because, unless you enunciate very clearly, they're hard to differentiate anyway. (Is there a way to produce the IPA n-tail symbol on the web without resorting to images?)

Also, the proper wildcard here is "?", not "*" (or even [gk]).


Oddly, the OED seems to say that 'thing' (as a misapprehension of 'think') predates that use of 'think'.


I didn't have any luck trying to do IPA last week on that Ogged thread about cock-jokes. No I mean, the singer he couldn't understand. Let's see:

ben wolfson



Huh. Cut and paste error? Has anyone else got a copy of the OED?


My OED is too small to read. But at the cost of my eyesight I can confirm that it does have 1937 as the first 'think coming'. It also has as one of the definitions of 'thing': "That which is thought, an opinion, a notion, an idea."


My OED is too small to read. But at the cost of my eyesight I can confirm that it does have 1937 as the first 'think coming'. It also has as one of the definitions of 'thing': "That which is thought, an opinion, a notion, an idea."


Huh. I wonder why the identification of "thing coming" as a misapprehension, then. I'll have to look at mine when I get home.


Until right here, right now, I never knew that this misunderstanding existed, never in my life heard "another thing coming". Sounds like foreshadowing in a 50s B horror movie. Just when you thought you were safe...

"That what you think? Well, buddy, you've got another think coming."

It just makes sense.


I guess I'd heard of 'think coming', but I thought it was a weird regional American thing, like Kentucky or something. I don't think I've heard it in Australia. But who knows, there could be a hopelessly outnumbered minority of thinkos here too.
Gotta go. Here comes my think.

Dr Pretorius

The OED both claims that - in the entry on 'thing' - 'you've got another thing coming' is a misstatement of 'you've got another think coming', and manages to give much earlier cases of the former than the latter. I suspect that it's deeply confused on this point.

"* 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...."
b. to have another think coming: to be greatly mistaken.

1937 Amer. Speech XII. 317/1 Several different statements used for the same idea{em}that of some one's making a mistake...[e.g.] you have another think coming. "

Jacob T. Levy

Wow-- I've never heard "thing" to the best of my knowledge. (Maybe people around me have said it and I haven't noticed it to be surprised by it.) "Think," definitely-- but here, unlike in "begging," it seems possible that I've just been in ignorant error all these years. I like "think," though. It makes sense to me.

Aeon J. Skoble

"it seems possible that I've just been in ignorant error all these years."

No. Just as we're in the right about begging the question, we're in the right here as well. People mangle expressions all the time, especially idiomatic ones, often to the point where they lose meaning. "I could care less," e.g., means exactly the opposite of what it's used to imply. It's correct for us to bring this to people's attention, because otherwise the language loses some of its expressive power and people's critical faculties diminish. Orwell makes this point in "Politics and the English Language." It's at this point that a sort of reverse-elitism manifests itself in the remark that fussing over this stuff is pedantic, and after all, language evolves, yada yada. But this isn't about stopping the evolution of language, it's about being complacent in the face of error, having an unwillingness to think that there even are any such things as errors. That sort of Tweedledee-ism (or is Tweedle-dumism? Never remember which.) spells disaster if It starts coming from academics.


While I agree with you in general, the 'thing'sters aren't arguing for a loosening of standards -- they think that they're simply right in terms of the wording of the original cliche. Given that the OED, which I would accept as authoritative, seems to be perfectly ambiguous, I still believe 'think' is right, but I wouldn't think of the argument as a matter of principle.

Aeon J. Skoble

Fair enough. At least w.r.t. the "thin*" issue - perhaps my rant is more relevant to the similar, concurrent comment thread on "begging the question," where some folks seem to be doing just what I'm complaining about.


What's really funny about this is, as wolfson said above, that 'thing' and 'think' are almost impossible to distinguish phonetically, at least for me, in this context. This probably explains all of the "My goodness, I've never even heard anyone say 'thin*'," reactions -- everyone hears an ambiguous sound, and interprets it as their favored version of 'thin*'.

Matt Weiner

Think! Think! Think! I'm from Pittsburgh, for what that's worth, and I think the Judas Priest song was the first time I heard "thing."

The OED entry looks like it's citing a work of linguistics for the first occurrence of "another think coming" so perhaps it was in oral circulation before it was printed. I am even willing to ascribe the 1919 "thing" to a meddling copy editor. And doesn't it seem significant that all the cited examples start with "If you think" or something similar? If "thing" had some semantic role it should be just as natural after "if you believe," and it doesn't seem to be until "another thin? coming" starts standing on its own.


I have always assumed "think" and that Judas Priest had it wrong. (Hypothesis for further examination: "If Judas Priest (or Ozzy Osbourne, or any other Metal King [tm]) takes position X on a controversial question, then the correct answer is likely not-X.")

Can someone who supports "thing" please give an example of the usage of this idiom in a context where thinking is not precisely what is at stake? You would think that if the idiom were "You have another thing coming" that it would be usable in other contexts besides thinking.

Consider the following:

"Is this all your stuff?"
"No, I have another thing coming."

Clearly, "another thing coming" is correct here, but also clearly it is NOT in any way related to the idiom under discussion.

I also want to come out clearly on John's side, and against Kevin Drum, on the "beg the question" issue.

That is all. Thank you for listening.


Could this be a regional difference? I'm in the "thing" camp, and grew up in the midwest.


I don't get why the "thing" version makes zero sense. On my parsing, "thing" refers to some event or state of affairs that's unlike what the indicated party expects. Some thing occurs that is importantly unlike some thing that was anticipated. Or else: someone encounters a piece of information (a thing) that causes her to reevaluate an expectation she formed prior to encountering that thing. Makes good sense to me.


The one I have trouble with is "put up, or shut up." I think the good disambiguation says to either stake something on a claim, or else quit making that claim; but I also hear that phrase used an injunction to "put up with" some status quo, or else quit (merely) complaining (and "do something")...the disjuncts are weirdly switched around...and then sometimes I hear people use it without, I think, having any particular meaning in mind...just as like an incantation to fuck off or something like that.

I think that's expecially bad news, because people are always going around saying, "Yo muthafucka, put up or shut up!" And that's why I always try to say "keep yo' babies out the street," instead, because, on any disambiguation, that's almost always good advice.

Gary Farber

This is more than sufficiently un-ubiquitous for me to have no opinion whatever.

However, I'm bugged by the quite common "try and [verb]."

"Try to [verb]" is correct, and should be used instead. No?


Ogged: don't think so. I'm a midwesterner here and pro-"think."

I don't see how it can be regional, because nobody bothers to disambiguate it anyway [if that's a word]. Even if most people in Wisconsin say "thing" and most people in Massachusetts say "think," if nobody is hearing each other clearly it's hard to see how that could remain stable.


"Anyway" is definitely a word, Kent. We can settle that one right now.


The real battle to be fought is between "air quotes" and "scare quotes." My wife maintains that the former is correct; I'm a scare man myself.

Oh, and if you're not, you have another thing coming.

Jacob T. Levy

All these disputes of which I knew nothing. I'd always assumed that "scare quotes" is the primary usage, and that "air quotes" was a play on that usage, for what people do with their fingers while speaking. The finger-gesture is a reference to a punctuation mark (that is, something written not spoken), and I don't see that "air quotes" makes any sense when referring to the printed page.

ben wolfson

I thought "scare" and "air" quotes were just entirely separate things.


All of you close minded people don't know what you're talking about.


If I may settle this with an emphatic opinion, "think" is mere barbarism. I'm going with Frankie Lee.

Dell Adams



Dell -- I hope you're being doubly ironic.


This is so shattering. I'm always the person with the right phrase! I make fun of other people, not vice-versa! And yet I have never, ever, even entertained the thought that the phrase could be "another thing coming" -- and now you tell me that's the majority phrasing? It sounds so...vulgar. Like the girl I dated in high school who used to say "grant it" for "granted," as in Grant it, this isn't the best movie ever, but it's pretty good.

I need some time to deal with this.


Here here.


"If you think that, you've got another think coming" was how I heard it (before I heard any of JP's hits).

As a tangent, who misheard their name as "Judy's Beast?"


Rather alarmingly, I just discovered that my wife is a 'think' woman.
You've got a lot to answer for, Holbo.

belle waring

dude, John actually talked me into "think" some time ago. when all I had was Priest on my side...


"Thing," without question.
1) The "think" version sounds more vulgar.
2) It is harder to pronounce clearly.
3) Before I read the last line of this post, I assumed this was all leading up to you mocking people who thought it was "think," wherein you would point out that "think" makes no sense.
4) "Think" makes no sense.
5) Of course it's "thing."


Wow Belle, he must be pretty persuasive. If only he used his power for good. OTOH he probably deserves some bonus points for "Pee-Wee Hermeneutics" at the very least.
Anyway, this nitpickery is all well and good, but what I hear the masses are crying out for is a post about how to entertain 2 kids (almost 5, almost 2) for a few days in Singapore.

Jim Flannery

"Thing," without question.
1) The "think" version sounds more vulgar.

Is there some convention I missed that the idiom itself is not vulgar? Why would the more vulgar version of a vulgar expression not be the authentic one?

Tomorrow's story: Cockney rhyming slang makes no sense.


British input: think. Not being a heavy metal fan, I didn't know of the Judas Priest song anyway. I've never heard of 'thing', to my knowledge (though I agree that in speech it's hard to tell anyway). I've only ever heard it in the context of the full phrase: 'If you think ..., you've got another think coming'. Second part of sentence neatly bounces back off first part of sentence. (You know, a little thing called wordplay.) Makes plenty of sense to me. So it ain't grammatical? So what? At least disputing over 'begs the question' made some sense, since it can be argued that the original meaning of that phrase is specific and useful. But here we're talking about something that's purely colloquial anyway. I wouldn't contemplate using *either* of these alternatives in a piece of academic writing. And if I saw 'try and...' in an essay, yes, I'd give the good old red pen. But in ordinary conversation, no problem. Especially in the extremely useful phrase, 'well, you try and do better'.

Brian Ledford

no opinion on thing vs. think other than I'll try to never use either, but I think "try and [verb]" works better than "try to [verb]." especially in "well, you try and do better", where I'm challenging you to do two things, (1) try and (2) do better, with you losing if you fail at either. "well, you try to do better" allows you to succeed with an honest but unsuccessful attempt, as you did indeed try to do better.


I just say "you got another thin comin" an that pretty much leaves everybody happy.


Jacob: my "point" exactly. In typing those quotation marks, my fingers did nothing but strike some keys.

Matt Reece

Kent's rule, "If Judas Priest (or Ozzy Osbourne, or any other Metal King [tm]) takes position X on a controversial question, then the correct answer is likely not-X," might sound compelling, but what if more interesting musicians take the same stance? In the Destroyer song "To the heart of the sun on the back of the vulture I'll go" (dumb title, "grant it") from the album Thief, Dan Bejar sings "Mistakes get made and then we blaspheme. Like mad eagles who think they made the same ones extinct, girl you've got another thing coming." Totally clear. You know, those mad eagles.

But although he disambiguates that one for us, he leaves some other ambiguities. How to punctuate "In a flitter[?] of impatience records cause culture as records break records on the back of the vulture I'll go into the heart of the sun."? (And is the word that sounds like "fleeter" really "flitter"? Theater? Some obscure Canadianism?

Matt Weiner

I wouldn't contemplate using *either* of these alternatives in a piece of academic writing.

[voice of Cher in Clueless] Project!

JTL is completely right about scare v. air quotes. Now 'scare quotes' v. 'shudder quotes', that's a question. (Gosh, I use 'shudder quotes', but it's not even close.)

Mitch Mills

I'd vote for "thing". "Think" sounds old-timey or hickish to my ear (not that there's anything wrong with that). Of course, as has been said, we're talking about what we hear inside our heads whenever anyone says the phrase, we don't actually know what the other person thinks they said, and usually there's no reason to ask. It's only when the phrase is written that anyone notices to raise the dispute.

Granted, at first glance "thing" doesn't make a lot of sense, and "think" does. But inside my head it's explained thusly: "thing" refers to a state of affairs different from the state of affairs the person on the receiving end of this phrase thinks will obtain.

An example: "If you expect to just waltz back in here and talk to me like nothing ever happened last night, you've got another thing coming." That is, "you" expects things to be just as they were before the fight/accident/whatever, but in reality will be faced with a different state of affairs. So there's what "you" thinks will happen, and then there's the thing that will actually happen. The phrase points out the difference between the expectation (the "think") and reality (the "thing").

Of course my head could just be bullshitting me.

Dell Adams

Chris - I only counted one layer of irony. But I was briefly tempted to leave the italic tag open...

Ray Davis

How bizarre. I've never even considered the possibility that people might be saying "thing" until I saw this page. My memories of the catchphrase are all variations on "If you think you can whup me, you got another think coming." N.B.: No "'ve" after the "you".

As for the ungrammatical hickness of it all, where do you think American idioms typically came from? The Hasty Pudding Club?


Thing? What thing is coming? An avocado? A cabbage patch kid? Why? Where is it coming from? Boston? Hinsdale?

So "think" is hickish? Yes. Vulgar? Yes. Seems likely that the reason idiomatic expressions stick often has to do with cute wordplay. In this case, a noun erroneously replaced with a verb. Using this rule, "thing" is highly improbably. There's no attraction, nothing funny about "thing." People really used to think this kind of wordplay was funny. Don't believe me? Watch some Marx Brothers films.


Concrete galoshes are funny.

Mitch Mills

In the interests of getting this post to the century mark (the first on J&B?), how about "buck naked" people versus "butt naked" people?

Mitch Mills

Also, although I'm a thing man myself, it occurs to me that the original might have been "think", and then it was cleaned up a bit to "thing" by people worried about avoiding grammatical error or sounding hickish. Although, if this surmise is correct, why they didn't clean it up to "another thought coming" is an interesting question.

"Another think coming" reminds me of "Who'da thunk it?", which is deliberately and exaggeratedly hickish, although there are (or at least there were) people for whom that phrase is natural usage.


Even if we can decide which option is right, though, how can we make people tow the line?


We might get caught in a viscous circle, and then where would we be?

Dell Adams

In dire straights, that's where.

Mitch Mills

Did anyone else used to think that "ellemeno" was the letter of the alphabet between k and p?

Mitch Mills

Irregardless of whether its "thing" or "think", for all intensive purposes I think most people could care less. I think niether is better then the other.

Also, something about "ice tea".

And if only I could work in "your retarted" somewhow.

Jacob T. Levy

Just to confirm the thought that people hear what they expect to hear on this one: I said above that I'd never heard "thing." Then I went and asked my wife, who insists on "thing" and had no idea I'd been saying "think." Each of us has been mishearing the other for ten years!


Marital discord X 3 and counting!


"Scare quotes" wins over "air quotes" hands down, and really it's even more of a landslide than the fight results appear, because "air quotes" catches a lot of airplane fares.


Oh, and I won't be the one doing Google research on "butt naked" versus "buck naked," but more power to you.

Russell Arben Fox

Until I read this post, I had no idea that anyone ever said "think"; I've always heard and seen (or thought I was hearing and seeing) "thing." Having read through the whole thread, I agree the former makes more sense. But I suspect I'll stick with "thing"; three decades or thereabouts of usage has got to count for something.

ben wolfson

Are you people still talking about this? Geez. I bet a libarian could give you a pacific answer.


It's "think". I am pretty old and often heard "think" used long before the "thing" song came out.

Mitch Mills

My libarian was on vacation since Febuary, but now he's back. We had lunch together (I brang a delicous balony samwich and he ate left-over pasgeti, we both drunk ice tea two] I asked him "is thing better then think"? He said he can't give me a pacific answer untill Wendsday. I'll let you no after that.
p.s. Your so retarted, I bet you by your gribenes from a mohel.


Each of us has been mishearing the other for ten years!

Wow, how often do you or your wife say "You've got another thin* coming!" to one another? :)


Now that this thread is over and no one's paying attention, it occurs to me that one of the reason's I've never heard "you've got another think..." is because usually when I hear "If you think that..." it's followed by "think again."


No, that's "thing again" :)

dave heasman

"Think" in England. Since 1952 to my knowledge, and my old man didn't invent sayings, so probably 1930.


It's "think". My mother had a phrase book when I was growing up which was handed down to her by her grandmother. It had this quote in there.

Even so, all one has to do is apply logic to come up with the most reasonable answer. The phrase is stating that what the person is thinking is incorrect ("If you think" so-and-so) and therefore that person needs to rethink their assumption, to think again ( "then you have another think coming"). How much simpler can it get.

People mess up sayings all of the time, and while they may state aloud "This saying makes no sense", they don't go about applying simple logic and reasoning to figure out that the saying they're using is misquoted and what the real saying that it evolved from must be.

Take for example the misquote "The exception proves the rule". People will wonder how the exception can prove the rule, it doesn't make sense. That's because the real saying is "The exception proofs the rule". Proof, as in waterproof and bulletproof. The exception shows the flaw in the rule, and by incorporating the exception into the rule (now that the exception is known) the rule becomes stronger, and is proof against the exception.

Tony Shin

I think whoever started using the expression "you've got another think coming" wanted to make fun of the language that working-class people (who are sometimes less educated than higher classes) used. In any case "another think" is, syntactically, a noun (which is a "thing" :P )


From the Judas Priest lyrics - "If you think I'd sit around as the world goes by, you're thinking like a fool 'cause it's a case of do or die. Out there is a fortune waiting to be had, if you think I'd let it go you're mad -- you've got another thing coming."

I count three instances of a form of "to think" prior to the blog-titular phrase. I think it's fair to say that in this context, "think" makes more sense. And this is coming from a JP fan. I feel almost dirty admitting my usage (and theirs) could be wrong.


When I first heard this song, I knew Judas priest would have a lot of people saying "thing" instead of "think". As an official O.F. I distinctly remember my parents admonishing me by saying "If you think so and so, you've got another think coming kid." this is the way I've always heard it until JP wrote their song. I guess the way they used it is OK though. Without that first part, another think doesn't make much sense.

I saw the words "pacific answer" in a couple of posts. I'm assuming they meant "specific answers"


You have made me think but I have no idea what you are thinking. I am then asking you this, Do you know what I am thinking about a thing?


The lyrics and title to the JP song is CLEARLY!! misspelled. Should be "You got another THINK coming".


I have always took it to be "You've got another thing coming" but having joined the great debate, I would say "think" makes more sense, even though it may not be grammatically correct.

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