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[ stressed thee; unstressed before a consonant thuh; unstressed before a vowel thee ]

definite article

  1. (used, especially before a noun, with a specifying or particularizing effect, as opposed to the indefinite or generalizing force of the indefinite article a or an ):

    the book you gave me; Come into the house.

  2. (used to mark a proper noun, natural phenomenon, ship, building, time, point of the compass, branch of endeavor, or field of study as something well-known or unique):

    the sun; the Alps; the Queen Elizabeth; the past; the West.

  3. (used with or as part of a title):

    the Duke of Wellington; the Reverend John Smith.

  4. (used to mark a noun as indicating the best-known, most approved, most important, most satisfying, etc.):

    the skiing center of the U.S.; If you're going to work hard, now is the time.

  5. (used to mark a noun as being used generically):

    The dog is a quadruped.

  6. (used in place of a possessive pronoun, to note a part of the body or a personal belonging):

    He won't be able to play football until the leg mends.

  7. (used before adjectives that are used substantively, to note an individual, a class or number of individuals, or an abstract idea):

    to visit the sick; from the sublime to the ridiculous.

  8. (used before a modifying adjective to specify or limit its modifying effect):

    He took the wrong road and drove miles out of his way.

  9. (used to indicate one particular decade of a lifetime or of a century):

    the sixties; the Gay Nineties.

  10. (one of many of a class or type, as of a manufactured item, as opposed to an individual one):

    Did you listen to the radio last night?

  11. enough:

    He saved until he had the money for a new car.

    She didn't have the courage to leave.

  12. (used distributively, to note any one separately) for, to, or in each; a or an:

    at one dollar the pound.



[ before a consonant thuh; before a vowel thee ]


  1. (used to modify an adjective or adverb in the comparative degree and to signify “in or by that,” “on that account,” “in or by so much,” or “in some or any degree”):

    He's been on vacation and looks the better for it.

  2. (used in correlative constructions to modify an adjective or adverb in the comparative degree, in one instance with relative force and in the other with demonstrative force, and signifying “by how much … by so much” or “in what degree … in that degree”):

    the more the merrier; The bigger they are, the harder they fall.


  1. variant of theo- before a vowel:




/ ðiː; ðə; ðɪ /


  1. used preceding a noun that has been previously specified Compare a 1

    the man then opened the door

    the pain should disappear soon

  2. used with a qualifying word or phrase to indicate a particular person, object, etc, as distinct from others Compare a 1

    ask the man standing outside

    give me the blue one

  3. used preceding certain nouns associated with one's culture, society, or community

    watch the television

    to go to the doctor

    listen to the news

  4. used preceding present participles and adjectives when they function as nouns

    the dead salute you

    the singing is awful

  5. used preceding titles and certain uniquely specific or proper nouns, such as place names

    the Honourable Edward Brown

    the United States

    the moon

    the Chairman

  6. used preceding a qualifying adjective or noun in certain names or titles

    Edward the First

    William the Conqueror

  7. used preceding a noun to make it refer to its class generically

    the white seal is hunted for its fur

    this is good for the throat

    to play the piano

  8. used instead of my, your, her, etc, with parts of the body

    take me by the hand

  9. usually stressed the best, only, or most remarkable

    Harry's is the club in this town

  10. used with proper nouns when qualified

    written by the young Hardy

  11. another word for per, esp with nouns or noun phrases of cost

    fifty pence the pound

  12. facetious.
    my; our

    the wife goes out on Thursdays

  13. used preceding a unit of time in phrases or titles indicating an outstanding person, event, etc

    match of the day

    player of the year




  1. a variant of theo-



/ ðɪ; ðə /


  1. often foll by for used before comparative adjectives or adverbs for emphasis

    she looks the happier for her trip

  2. used correlatively before each of two comparative adjectives or adverbs to indicate equality

    the more I see you, the more I love you

    the sooner you come, the better

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Pronunciation Note

As shown above, the pronunciation of the definite article the changes, primarily depending on whether the following sound is a consonant or a vowel. Before a consonant sound the pronunciation is [th, uh]: the book, the mountain [th, uh, -book, th, uh, -, moun, -tn]. Before a vowel sound it is usually [th, ee], sometimes [th, i]: the apple, the end [th, ee, or, th, i-, ap, -, uh, l, th, ee, or, th, i-end]. As an emphatic form (“I didn't say a book—I said the book.”) or a citation form (“The word the is a definite article.”), the usual pronunciation is [th, ee], although in both of these uses of the stressed form, [th, ee] is often replaced by [th, uh], especially among younger speakers.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of the1

First recorded before 900; Middle English, Old English, uninflected stem of the demonstrative pronoun; that none

Origin of the2

First recorded before 900; Middle English; Old English thē, thȳ, instrumental case of demonstrative pronoun; that, lest

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Word History and Origins

Origin of the1

Middle English, from Old English thē, a demonstrative adjective that later superseded (masculine singular) and sēo, sio (feminine singular); related to Old Frisian thi, thiu, Old High German der, diu

Origin of the2

Old English thī, thӯ, instrumental case of the 1and that ; related to Old Norse thī, Gothic thei

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Example Sentences

France 24 is providing live, round-the-clock coverage of both scenes as they progress.

Sands was involved in a scandalous-for-the-time romance with the carpenter and there were rumors she was pregnant with his child.

Three on-the-record stories from a family: a mother and her daughters who came from Phoenix.

The Dallas Cowboys sell out their state-of-the art football stadium.

The Daily Beast spoke to a jubilant League on Tuesday about the behind-the-scenes battle to get The Interview to movie theaters.

Sleek finds it far harder work than fortune-making; but he pursues his Will-o'-the-Wisp with untiring energy.

You never know when you are going to stumble upon a jewel in the most out-of-the-way corner.

Mr. Slocum was not educated in a university, and his life has been in by-paths, and out-of-the-way places.

I drew back from the rim of Writing-On-the-Stone, that set of whispered phrases echoing in my ears.

Besides the districts mentioned, tobacco is grown largely in that of Frankfort-on-the Oder.


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