I’ll just start out by point­ing out that the say­ing is “you have anoth­er think com­ing”. It’s not “anoth­er thing com­ing”.

The say­ing goes some­thing like, “If you think (such and such), then you have anoth­er think com­ing.” The idiom works because it con­nects the two thinks.

How­ev­er, because peo­ple aren’t used to see­ing think used as a noun (Cam­bridge, Mer­ri­am-Web­ster, Oxford) and because the K sound in think blends with the K sound in com­ing, it’s eas­i­ly mis­heard as thing instead of think.

Both ver­sions have been around for quite a while. For exam­ple anoth­er thing com­ing was first seen (as far as we can tell) in an August 1919 edi­tion of The Syra­cuse Her­ald:

If you think the life of a movie star is all sun­shine and flow­ers you’ve got anoth­er thing com­ing.

How­ev­er, the ear­li­est occur­rence of anoth­er think com­ing is at least a decade old­er; although it, too, was seen in Syra­cuse, but in The Syra­cuse Stan­dard in May 1898:

Con­roy lives in Troy and thinks he is a com­ing fight­er. This gen­tle­man has anoth­er think com­ing. It is prob­a­ble that McCoy will next meet Joe Choyn­s­ki.

One could make the argu­ment that they’re rough­ly the same age, despite one being a decade old­er. How­ev­er. one has been more pop­u­lar right from the start. Far more pop­u­lar.

The blue line above is for got anoth­er think com­ing, while, of course, the red line is for got anoth­er thing com­ing. Clear­ly, the for­mer is far more pop­u­lar, and it wasn’t even until the mid-1960s before the lat­ter start­ed to gain any pop­u­lar­i­ty at all.

That cov­ers print usage over the last 100 years or so. What about search queries?

Same colours.

What we notice here is that the roles have switched. Peo­ple seem more like­ly to search for got anoth­er thing com­ing over got anoth­er think com­ing. And notice the down­turn in the first graph for got anoth­er think com­ing. That isn’t the first down­turn that phrase has encoun­tered over the last cen­tu­ry, but when com­bined with search behav­iour, per­haps it’s not just a cycli­cal dat­a­point. Per­haps it’s the begin­ning of the end.

Those who are diehard anoth­er think com­ing sup­port­ers have quite a bit of sup­port on their side, but the fight could pos­si­bly be futile in the future.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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