I've recently watched Last Week Tonight With Jon Oliver (season 2 episode 2).

It shows a clip from Fifty Shades of Grey movie, where a guy asks a girl "What is your thing?" and she responds "I don't know, books?" and the audience of the show laughs and Jon Oliver responds to it "My penis just yawned"....

I don't get it. I don't get it at all.

So I googled "What is your thing" ...and "Your thing" but couldn't get any dictionary entry.

I identified that {possessive adjective} thing is some phrase but I couldn't find any meaning to it.

I found the passage from the book but I can't still put a meaning to it...

"Were you a Girl Scout?" he asks, sculptured, sensual lips curled in amusement. Don't look at his mouth!

"Organized, group activities aren't really my thing, Mr. Grey."

He arches a brow.

"What is your thing, Anastasia?" he asks, his voice soft and his secret smile is back. I gaze at him unable to express myself. I'm on shifting tectonic plates. Try and be cool, Ana, my tortured subconscious begs on bended knee.

"Books," I whisper, but inside, my subconscious is screaming: You! You are my thing!

So... "my thing" just means something important? And why would anyone ask a question like "What is your thing?" How different is that from "What is important to you?"

  • And because I forgot in my answer: Not everything that is important to someone is "his thing". My children are very important to me, but definitively not "my thing". Neither my hobby nor my main interest, sorry kids!
    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 21:07

2 Answers 2


Your thing is what drives, motivates, interests you most. Something you are usually good at, your main focus. Often an area of expertise, after a while.
We may assume that gorillas were Dian Fossey's "thing" and Playboy Bunnies are Hugh Hefner's "thing".

It can also be your "modus operandi", a behavioural pattern or quirk.
In this sense, Charlie Chaplin's waddling walk was "his thing". Charles Ponzi even had "his thing" named after him.

  • +1 although, as usual, if a source can be stated, it makes it better. I am also going to do the exact opposite and make an educated guess this phrase 'What is your thing?', a phrase not in use much 5 years ago, is now all over the internet due, I guess, to its use in this book, Fifty shades of grey, which has been popular among many people from its publication in 2011. So when people start using a phrase, more and more people start using it, and there is a snowball effect, even among folks who haven't read it. Having said all that, the phrase was in use well before the book's publication.
    – user6951
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 7:04

The phrase in question is a response to: "Organized, group activities aren't really my thing, Mr. Grey."

"X isn't really my thing" is a common formulation used to express disinterest. The nuance is different from dislike, and is perhaps closest to "X bores me", but is softer.

"What is your thing?" is a playful response asking what you are interested in. It's upending the common formulation, reversing it. It's wordplay.

As with most wordplay, using such a phrase outside its original context is likely to lead to misunderstandings.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .