"something to him/her/it"
The phrase meaning "there's something (with respect to/about) him/her/it (that is observable/noticeable)" - my own attempted definition, since I can't find a specific dictionary entry for this idiomatic expression.
"(there's) nothing to it"
It's not at all difficult, it's easy, as in Of course I can fix the faucet—there's nothing to it. This hyperbolic term was first recorded in 1934.
Another possible phrase:
"there's nothing to him/her/it"
meaning "He/she/it has no redeeming qualities." or it can also mean that the person in question is really skinny or small.
There's also a completely different sense of "nothing to it", where it means "there is nothing about this that is believable or credible" as evidenced by this corpus search:
In another sense, it's used to indicate there being nothing serious (or to be taken seriously) about the subject in question:
So as you can see it seems to be a very versatile phrase.
Now prepositions have been used in odd ways in idioms, such as "I will have nothing of it" but at least in this case "of" is used syntactically correctly, indicating possessive "it". Or in the case of "see eye to eye with", used in the sense of "from that point of reference to that point of reference". But in the examples above they seem to make little sense.
I suppose it can mean "with respect to" or "about" in the first idiom, but that isn't a standard definition; at least I can't find it as one: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/to?s=t
In the second idiom, it's even tougher to figure out what role it's serving. Perhaps as an implied: There's nothing (hard) (about) it. And yet even with this paraphrase something inherent about "it" is not being accounted for, for whatever reason, that (with respect to/about) don't quite manage to capture.
My questions are:
What is the exact origin of these phrases?
What role is "to" serving in them?