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Another think coming

Another think coming is the original form of the colloquial phrase aimed at someone who has a mistaken view. It comes from the old comical expression, If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.

Because think in the second part of the expression is (intentionally) ungrammatical, some people hear another thing coming and repeat it as such. Plus, another thing coming usually makes literal sense, so it’s now more common than another think coming.

The exact origins of another think coming are mysterious, but it appears to be an Americanism, and it does predate another thing coming in the sense expressing disagreement. It goes back at least a century. Here are a few old examples:

Having elected him republicans think they have some voice in the distribution of the spoils and there is where they have another think coming to them. [The Daily Argus (1897)]

Those who thought taxes high in the past will have another think coming in the future. [Clinton Mirror (1907)]

If this Good Will Campaign is not a close race then you have another think coming. [Steuben Farmers’ Advocate (1925)]


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The original phrase still appears occasionally—for example:

[A]nd if you think I’m spending too much time on this, you have another think coming. [Washington Post]

If you think Southern women are such dainty little things, so fragile and delicate, you’ve got another think coming. [Daily News Journal (article now offline)]

But another thing coming is now more common than the original. These examples were easier to find than the above ones:

Conservatives have another thing coming if they think they can improve their fortunes by changing the subject to the non-Medicare parts of their budget plan. [Center for American Progress]

If you think you can move to an isolated cabin on a high mountain for 30 years, validate yourself and come back “whole,” I’d say you had another thing coming. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

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Comments

  1. Wow, I’ve never heard of this one. It seems like the meaning behind ‘another thing coming’ has a slightly more ominous connotation. ‘Another think coming’ seems rather jocular, witty way to say someone is mistaken. ‘Another thing coming’ usually suggests to me that the author desires the ‘other thing’ coming to be a fist in an idiots face.

    • Pablo Guajardo says:

      And that’s why I like the evolution better than the original!

      • But it makes no sense. They didn’t have a “thing” coming in the first place. So why would another one be one the way.

        • Pablo Guajardo says:

          It makes sense. The speaker isn’t talking about changing the other person’s mind.

          A thinks something, and expects certain things to happen as a result.

          B thinks A is wrong. The things that A expect to happen will not (because A is wrong). Instead the things B expects to happen will happen (because B is right).

          Saying “think” implies the person will change their mind. Saying “thing” implies that you don’t actually CARE if the person changes their mind. Their wishes are irrelevant because they are so wrong/bad/mistaken events will happen regardless of what they think. It’s that kind of ominous dismissal with a threat of being crushes if you don’t get out of the way that I like better.

          • Heather Leduc says:

            I disagree.

            Saying someone has another thing coming, makes no sense when preceded by “If you think”.

            Saying “If you think I am going to do it your way, you have another think coming” does not impy anyone is going to change their mind. It only tells the person they are saying that to, that they should think again and consider that the person saying it does not see it their way. There is no expectation.

          • Some people think people do not think things.
            To others, that’s some thing that some people think.

      • I don’t agree. What would be the “another thing” the person has coming. “Think” makes more sense.

        • Adam Cadogan says:

          The “thing” depends on the situation.

          Person A) “I can stay up all night and not be tired in the morning”
          Person B) “If that’s what you think, you’ve got another thing coming”

          The “thing” that comes for person A the next day is “exhaustion”

          Person A) “Hey Dan I’m gonna get that girls phone number by showing her my ****”
          Dan) “If that’s what you think, you got another thing coming”

          The “thing” in this case is a slap around the face a kick in the nuts and/or possible sexual assault charges ;)

          • “Think” here refers to “contemplation.” In your example above, Person A is telling of what he can do, which is his ability to stay up all night and not get tired. It’s a feat he’s sure he can do, and not something he’s contemplating about doing. His ability to “stay up all night and not get tired in the morning”, is a certainty to him. It’s not what he thinks, contemplates, or wishes he might do. Person B has no business retorting with “If that’s what you think, bla bla bla,” because Person A was not thinking he could do what he said he has the ability of doing.

            Indubitably, think/think makes a whole lot of sense.

  2. I’ve always said “another think coming” (for almost 70 years). Not happy to see it being misused and twisted into something totally different, with none of the intended wit of the original.

    • [email protected] says:

      It’s grammatically incorrect to say “another think”. And I’ve said “another thing coming” for almost 60 years….your point, or do you have one?

      • It’s a colloquialism, not intended to be grammatically correct. In context — eg, “If you think I’m going to that store, you’ve got another think coming” — it means “another thought,” or think again. In that context, “thing” makes no sense. As for citing my age, I simply meant that it’s a usage of long standing. I suspect at some point you misheard what someone was saying.

        • LawrenceCarrel says:

          Actually “Another THINK coming” makes no sense. If Person A thinks something, but is incorrect, Person B says they have “another THINK coming,” meaning Person A should “rethink” this, or think again. But there is no reason to believe Person A will rethink this, so there is no reason to believe Person A will, in fact, have “another think coming” and re-evaluate his position. However, if what Person A believes will happen, doesn’t happen, then, in fact, they will actually see “another THING coming.”

          • The THINK in the 2nd part of the expression, as in: another THINK coming, is used as a noun. It simply means to say that one is mistaken and needs to “think again.” …you have another “thinking” to do. Goshhhhhh!

        • No sorry, I don’t buy your explanation

      • Lincoln Maurice says:

        Grammatical correctness is not inherent in colloquialisms; in fact, its often intentionally bereft of strict decorum and adherence to the expected norms, so as to make itself known.
        Thinking back on the final episode of The IT Crowd, remember the terms Damp Squib vs Damp Squid or Pedestal vs Pedal Stool, and they’re very funny because of the unintelligible characters, yet the intelligence of the actors, you respect the part being played. Apply the same dry and meanwhile hilarious intent to the term and you might finally get it.

      • David Brown says:

        It’s the THOUGHT that counts.

      • Joss Davis says:

        It may be technically grammatically incorrect, but only in the sense that ‘think’ is a verb not a noun. However we frequently use ‘think’ as a noun when we say “I’ll have a think about that”, so why not when we are suggesting that someone else might have ‘another think’ coming? You are in fact telling them to ‘have another think about it’, which is perfectly acceptable, even if it is ‘nouning’ a verb.

      • Mickey Logan says:

        Of COURSE it’s incorrect. It’s intended to be so. Yeesh.

      • Kevin Bryan Smith says:

        Your objection is not accurate. We use verbs in noun form all the time. For instance, “Have a good soak.” That might actually help in this case. You certainly have another think coming, if you first thought there was an issue with the original post.

    • Adam Cadogan says:

      I get you’re point, although oddly in this case it’s not being twisted it’s being corrected, and this is why it looses it’s wittiness, which makes me wonder if the saying using thing was around before and someone replaced the word with think to be witty. One thing I do know for sure is that language and sayings are always changing end evolving, it’s not a good or a bad thing, it’s just a think ;)

  3. I tend to like originals better than mistaken deviations, but not this time. I always heard this phrase and used it as “another thing coming”, and I think it’s a good form. I also believe that “another think coming” is too cute a twisting of grammar to be a popular colloquialism. That is, I think the misunderstanding of the phrase helped it come into common use.

    In writing, the usage is going to be at the author’s discretion, but in reporting what someone else spoke, it’s generally not possible to be sure which form the speaker used.

  4. Bill in San Diego says:

    “… another think coming” is the original idiom, easily
    understood to say another thought is needed because the first one is wrong. The
    interesting misuse of “think” as a noun is somewhat jarring,
    colloquial, and memorable.

    It’s natural to mishear the second
    “think” in the spoken idiom as “thing” because
    “thing” sounds similar and is technically grammatical. Unfortunately,
    the substitution changes the meaning and destroys the clarity of the original
    idiom, rendering it so ambiguous that, perversely, it’s possible (with tortured
    logic) to reconcile the misunderstood idiom with the original intent. In the
    original, “another think” is clearly a replacement for the first
    “think”; but the rest of the idiom provides little hint as to the
    meaning of “thing”, which is therefore is a complete Rorschach
    wildcard. Sure, the “thing coming” will be related to the “think”
    that is the first subject, but is it logical consequence? karmic payback?
    aggressive punishment (fist)? The meaning is entirely left to the imagination
    of the person (mis)hearing the idiom.

    Having necessarily applied considerable pattern-discerning efforts to make
    internal sense of the “thing” idiom, it’s no surprise many people
    prefer the distorted version that comports with their hard-earned conclusions.
    Fine. At least recognize it as conveying something completely different from
    the simple, pointed contradiction of the original idiom, from which it obviously
    descended via replication error.

    • Heather Leduc says:

      Wow! If ever there is a team competition for this sort of discussion I choose you for my team. I called it first so everyone else back off.

  5. “Think” is a verb, not a noun. Ergo, “anther think coming” is grammatically incorrect. Shame on you, “grammarist.”

    • Lincoln Maurice says:

      It’s intentionally incorrect, by a Republican writer writing about Democrats, suggesting that you need to talk down to them with incorrect idioms. I bet you use the term “google it”, yet you’re using a noun as a verb if you do. Take it easy on Grammarist, they’re showing what the term is from, not what the grammar should be.

      • With the phrase ‘Google it’, ‘Google’ is being used as a verb, I’d define it as ‘The act of searching for information about something (it), by using the popular search engine Google’. Who says new verbs can’t evolve in a language to express actions in the modern world ?

    • islander2010 says:

      It’s also an example of our typically playful use of language!

    • David Brown says:

      Exactly why it has always been “…another think coming.”

    • Mickey Logan says:

      You really don’t get how colloquialisms work, do you?

    • reverendflash says:

      While probably technically incorrect, there is a liberty that people occasionally take where they turn a verb into a noun. In some of these cases, the word evolves into having two legitimate forms. For instance, “We need to have a talk.” uses ‘talk’ as a noun, referring to a period of activity featuring the verb form of the same word’ likewise when someone says “I’m going out for a run.” It’s in this sense that ‘think’ becomes a noun. But while not validated by existing grammatical rules, it’s far closer to poetic license than to a slip of the tongue or an ignorance of the word’s proper usage.

  6. Of course “another think” is the correct form. Those who think it’s “another thing” deserve our sympathy and condescension as do those who have no ear for music and happily sing out of tune without knowing it.

    • Perhaps a way to show why it’s always been “another think” is to use it on the phrase itself. To wit:

      “If you think this colloquialism ever used the word thing you’ve got another think coming”

      Said the other way makes no sense at all:

      “If you think this colloquialism ever used the word thing you’ve got another thing coming”

  7. Rob Coulter says:

    A British friend of mine uses “…another thought coming.” THAT’S grammatically correct.

  8. Neil McMillan says:

    ‘Another think coming’ could be equated with ‘think again’ or to reconsider your position. A good example is in the Scottish National anthem ‘…..and sent them homeward tae think again.’ The notion is rather straightforward enough. I have never heard the newer version ‘another thing coming’ it seems to me that this is a Mondegreen or an eggcorn; similar to phrases such as ‘butt naked’ instead of ‘buck naked’ it’s a miss hearing that has slipped into usage.

  9. Night Rider says:

    Enlighten me on this: Take vs. Bring. As in: Take your umbrella – it will be raining today. Or bring your umbrella ….

    This has been irritating me for a long time. Do people purposely use the wrong word in the context?

    • a1bugman says:

      I would say, “Take your umbrella…” as you are walking out the door (leaving me behind).
      I would say, “Bring your umbrella…” if we are both heading out into the storm.

      • Night Rider says:

        Perfect. Just as I thought. People say wrong things esp. in ill-fitting contexts. On the phone you say to your friend (some distance away): “bring your iPad, let’s check out as to what the problem is”. If you are asking someone to leave home with an iPad in their bag, then you say “take your iPad with you so that your friend can check it out for you”. What is appalling: Even journalists, who are supposed to write proper King’s English make such mistakes. Schooling has a lot to do with it I suppose.

  10. a1bugman says:

    I have both heard and said “another THINK” for 50 some years. It wasn’t until recent years that I started hearing the younger folks using the word THING. I assumed they had simply misheard the quote, but it seems to be happening more frequently. THINK on these examples:
    1. If you think you can do sloppy work and still get a good grade, you’ve got another THING coming. (what other thing?)
    2. If you think you can lay around and eat candy all day, and still be in shape for basketball, you’ve got another THING coming. (what THING?)
    3. If you think she is going to dance with you, you’ve got another THING coming. (what other thing)
    When my parents or friends said these phrases to me (only substitue THINK for THING), I understood the implication, “Hey dummy, you’re not thinking correctly. Your THINKING is messed up on this subject.”
    Another THING coming rarely sounds correct to me. Maybe, “If you think you are going to move that little rock without the big one falling on you, you’ve got another THING coming.” (a BIG ROCK is the THING you’ve got coming).

    • a1bugman says:

      In addition, I was often told something similar:
      “If you think you can stay up too late, oversleep, and then have me drive you to school, you had better THINK again.”
      I believe “you had better THINK again” & “you have a another THINK coming” to be similar ideas. “you have another THINK coming” is a bit more condescending; It would be like saying ” Think again — You idiot!”

  11. One thing they didn’t mention as a possibility of the perversion of the expression is that the K of think melds sound of the C in coming. Because people are to lazy to say K C which is one C sound after another, so they only say one of the Cs instead.

  12. teapartyguardian says:

    Figures the “center for unAmerican Progress” would get it wrong…

  13. I can’t quite believe what I’m reading here! I have never known or met anyone who uses the erroneous version and says “thing” instead of “think.” Why on earth would anyone say “thing”? It is meaningless! You cannot have “another” of something that you haven’t already had! If you have “another thing” then you must first have had “a thing”.

    The meaning of the phrase “you have another think coming” is “your first thought is wrong; think again.” For example, something my father often used to say, “if you think I’m going to let you go out of the house dressed like that, then you have another think coming!” To covey the same meaning, he could have said “if you think I’m going to let you go out of the house dressed like that, then think again!”

    The number of years a person may have been saying “thing” instead of “think” in this phrase is immaterial; it is still incorrect. Saying something that’s wrong over and over doesn’t make it right!

  14. Eric Scoles says:

    One of the problems with etymological musings is that prior to about 1930, they can only track written records of usage. So an idiom could be in wide usage and never appear in print, if it was regarded as common or vulgar.

  15. Gene Rybarczyk says:

    I’m afraid I see little relevance with the use of “thing” in these or any other examples I’ve encountered in my general reading. The juxtaposition of think/think is what gives the colloquialism its utilitarian charm. Instead, think/thing limps badly and is similar to the auditory illiteracy that’s led to the growing use of “would of” as a literally meaningless corruption of “would’ve.” This is singing-by-ear for those who haven’t read the lyrics.

  16. isgigra says:

    “Plus, another thing coming usually makes literal sense, so it’s now more common than another think coming.” What? No, it doesn’t. It makes no literal sense at all. You’re an idiot if you think the term should be “another thing coming”.

  17. Dee Zed says:

    I always thought ” Another Thing Coming” was a song by Judas Priest…

  18. Mickey Logan says:

    I had no idea that so many people get this wrong. How very odd. Why should someone have a “thing” coming? That makes no sense.

  19. Nathaniel Door says:

    Is it not possible that “another thing coming” was a common expression, perhaps in a different context, and “another think coming” was a witty play on that? As Eric Scoles mentioned, phrases one might use in common discourse would not necessarily make it into public writings. To me it makes more sense for a purposefully grammatically incorrect idiom to be a play on a grammatically correct original phrase.

  20. I love the humour of this one! My folks used to use it all the time on us. “If you think you’re staying up late, you’ve got another think coming!”

    It’s meaning is quite simple: If you think X, you are wrong, and soon enough you will discover that and think “I’m wrong”. Thus the other “think coming” is the thought about to arrive in your brain realising you are wrong.

    In all he examples, you can replace the “another think coming” with “you/they are wrong”. It simply makes no sense if then if it was “another thing coming”

    The phrase “another thing coming” is about a threatened punishment, not about being proved wrong. e.g “Stay up late when I said you couldn’t, and you’ll have another thing coming”

    So, if you think it’s “thing”, then you’ve got another think coming. :)

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