I googled the exact phrase "He thought on" in quotes and get back mostly quotes from the Bible or old texts.

Does it sound antiquated to say, "He thought on his cat, how he would chase mice..." vs. "He thought about his cat, how he would chase mice..." vs. "He thought of his cat, how he would chase mice..."

Or to say, "He smiled when he thought on it." vs. "He smiled when he thought about it." vs. ""He smiled when he thought of it."

I want to use "thought on" but I'm not finding many modern examples. Just checking to see how it sounds to the community and if there are any real differences in meaning between the 3 options I've listed.


  • See; freecollocation.com/search?word=think
    – user 66974
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 9:45
  • "Your thoughts on the subject is solicited." Here, 'thought' is a noun. In the cruise ship, he thought about his family. He thought of a new method. Oh, it was wrong; I didn't think of it early.
    – Ram Pillai
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 11:46
  • Yes, it does sound old-fashioned or literary to say think on something when you mean think about it. My late mother, a Yorkshirewoman, used to tell me to 'think on' (without an object) when she wanted me to consider the implications of something I'd done wrong. Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 13:14
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/q/127687/17956
    – Jim
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


To "think of" something is a brief thought, a recollection of that something.

  • "Seeing him jumping about like that make me think of my cat."
  • "I think of you whenever I pass that restaurant."

To "think about" something means spending significant time recalling memories and details about it, possibly finding new meanings or relationships within the thoughts.

  • "When you have time, think about the offer.
  • "I was thinking about what happened last week, and I was wondering … ."

To "think on" something, is more archaic, but from these AV biblical examples, it seems to mean that one should keep something in mind as a background thought while thinking about something else or making a not directly related decision.

  • I thought on my ways, and turned my feet … — Psalms 119
  • … was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, … — Matthew 1:19–20
  • While Peter thought on the vision, … — Acts 10:19
  • thanks for that. I tend to like the archaic version in some cases.
    – romebot
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 19:35
  • If you are taking the feeling of the words into consideration, I agree that “think on” feels more poetical.
    – Laurent R.
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 0:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.