Origin of his
pronoun, nominative he, possessive his, objective him; plural nominative they, possessive their or theirs, objective them.
noun, plural hes.
Origin of he1
Those who object to the generic use of he have developed various ways of avoiding it. One is to use he/she or she/he (or he or she or she or he ) or the appropriate case forms of these pairs: Everyone who agrees should raise his or her (or her or his or his/her or her/his ) right hand. Forms blending the feminine and masculine pronouns, as s/he, have not been widely adopted, probably because of confusion over how to say them.
Another solution is to change the antecedent pronoun or noun from singular to plural so that the plural pronouns they, their, and them can be used: All who agree should raise their right hands. All writers know that their first books are not likely to be bestsellers. See also they.
- of, belonging to, or associated with himhis own fault; his knee; I don't like his being out so late
- as pronounhis is on the left; that book is his
Word Origin for his
the chemical symbol for
Word Origin for he
Old English his (genitive of he), from Proto-Germanic *khisa (cf. Gothic is, German es). Originally also the neuter possessive pronoun, but replaced in that sense c.1600 by its. In Middle English, hisis was tried for the absolute pronoun (cf. her/hers), but it failed to stick. For dialectal his'n, see her.
Old English he (see paradigm of Old English third person pronoun below), from Proto-Germanic *hi- (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch he, hi, Dutch hy, Old High German he), from PIE *ki-, variant of *ko-, the "this, here" (as opposed to "that, there") root (cf. Hittite ki "this," Greek ekeinos "that person," Old Church Slavonic si, Lithuanian šis "this"), and thus the source of the third person pronouns in Old English. The feminine, hio, was replaced in early Middle English by forms from other stems (see she), while the h- wore off Old English neuter hit to make modern it. The Proto-Germanic root also is the source of the first element in German heute "today," literally "the day" (cf. Old English heodæg).
|nom.||he||hit||heo, hio||hie, hi|
|acc.||hine||hit||hie, hi||hie, hi|
Pleonastic use with the noun ("Mistah Kurtz, he dead") is attested from late Old English. With animal words, meaning "male" (he-goat, etc.) from c.1300.