Another think, again

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu May 22 18:19:39 UTC 2008

On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 1:33 PM, Brenda Lester <alphatwin2002 at> wrote:
> On Thu, 5/22/08, Geoff Nathan <I><geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU> wrote:
>> Wilson wrote:
>>> "If you think that, then you have another think coming!" is one of my
>>> mother's favorite clich=E9s, when she's pitching a bitch. I've heard it
>>> under that circumstance all of my life and I hate it hearing it, for
>>> that reason. Since she was born in 1913, my guess is that, if "think"
>>> isn't original, then it's at least a relatively old reanalysis.
>>> Besides, why couldn't a person use "think" as a noun, if he wanted to?
>>> We are discussing English, after all.
>> My mother, who was born in London, England in 1924, used exactly the
>> same words.  Given the distance in geography and ethnicity a comparative
>> linguist would be compelled to push the proto-form rather further back.
> My mother was born in rural Laurens County, GA, in 1926, and she used
> the "think" phrase.  OT:  My grandmother used "holp" for help."

Just to clarify, for anyone who hasn't been following the ongoing
discussion of antedatings and such, all evidence points to "another
think" as the original form, with "another thing" a later reanalysis.
Earliest citations thus far are 1897 for "another think" and 1904 for
"another thing", so the reanalysis happened pretty quickly. It's
comparable to other swiftly developing eggcorns like "home in on"
(1944) > "hone in on" (1965).

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list