My eighth-grade English teacher, who has since lodged himself in
my forebrain, wisely pointed out that the word "thing" conveys next to no
meaning and should be revised out of almost every sentence in which it appears. As Webster's definition shows, a "thing" can be, well, anything--an entity (whether
real or imagined), an inanimate object, an event, a possession, an
action. "Thing" is thus something of a cop-out; you can nearly always find a more precise and vivid word. Besides, if you use it sparingly, you'll find that the word gains power: the reader will know that when you do use it, you're not just
suffering from temporary anomia but are rather referring to something so
ambiguous or bizarre that it defies even rudimentary classification.
Thank you; I can stop twitching now. If you find the word "thing" in any of my writeups (except for THIS one, you miserable pedants), please feel free to /msg me and I'll revise it after flogging myself a few times.