Old English sum þinge; see some + thing. Hyphenated from c. 1300; one word from 17c. Formerly common as an adverb (as in something like). Meaning "some liquor, food, etc." is from 1570s. Meaning "a thing worthy of consideration" is from 1580s; emphatic form something else is from 1909. Phrase something for nothing is from 1816. To make something of is from 1778.
Entries linking to something
Old English sum "some, a, a certain one, something, a certain quantity; a certain number;" with numerals "out of" (as in sum feowra "one of four"); from Proto-Germanic *sumaz (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German sum, Old Norse sumr, Gothic sums), from PIE *smm-o-, suffixed form of root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with." For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come.
The word has had greater currency in English than in the other Teutonic languages, in some of which it is now restricted to dialect use, or represented only by derivatives or compounds .... [OED]
As a pronoun from c. 1100; as an adverb from late 13c. Meaning "remarkable" is attested from 1808, American English colloquial. A possessive form is attested from 1560s, but always was rare. Many combination forms (somewhat, sometime, somewhere) were in Middle English but often written as two words till 17-19c. Somewhen is rare and since 19c. used almost exclusively in combination with the more common compounds; somewho "someone" is attested from late 14c. but did not endure. Scott (1816) has somegate "somewhere, in some way, somehow," and somekins "some kind of a" is recorded from c. 1200. Get some "have sexual intercourse" is attested 1899 in a quote attributed to Abe Lincoln from c. 1840.
Old English þing "meeting, assembly, council, discussion," later "entity, being, matter" (subject of deliberation in an assembly), also "act, deed, event, material object, body, being, creature," from Proto-Germanic *thinga- "assembly" (source also of Old Frisian thing "assembly, council, suit, matter, thing," Middle Dutch dinc "court-day, suit, plea, concern, affair, thing," Dutch ding "thing," Old High German ding "public assembly for judgment and business, lawsuit," German Ding "affair, matter, thing," Old Norse þing "public assembly"). The Germanic word is perhaps literally "appointed time," from a PIE *tenk- (1), from root *ten- "stretch," perhaps on notion of "stretch of time for a meeting or assembly."
The sense "meeting, assembly" did not survive Old English. For sense evolution, compare French chose, Spanish cosa "thing," from Latin causa "judicial process, lawsuit, case;" Latin res "affair, thing," also "case at law, cause." Old sense is preserved in second element of hustings and in Icelandic Althing, the nation's general assembly.
Of persons, often pityingly, from late 13c. Used colloquially since c. 1600 to indicate things the speaker can't name at the moment, often with various meaningless suffixes (see thingamajig).
Things "personal possessions" is from c. 1300. The thing "what's stylish or fashionable" is recorded from 1762. Phrase do your thing "follow your particular predilection," though associated with hippie-speak of 1960s is attested from 1841.