the

1
[stressed th ee; unstressed before a consonant thuh; unstressed before a vowel th ee]

definite article


Origin of the

1
before 900; Middle English, Old English, uninflected stem of the demonstrative pronoun. See that

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 [thuh] /ðə/: the book, the mountain [thuh-book, thuh-moun-tn] /ðə bɒɒk, ðəˈmaʊn tn/. Before a vowel sound it is usually [th ee] /ði/, sometimes [th i] /ðɪ/: the apple, the end [th ee or th i-ap-uh l, th ee or th i-end] /ði or ðɪˈæp əl, ði or ðɪ ɛnd/. 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] /ði/, although in both of these uses of the stressed form, [th ee] /ði/ is often replaced by [th uh] /ðʌ/, especially among younger speakers.

the

2
[before a consonant thuh; before a vowel th ee]

adverb

(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.
(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.

Origin of the

2
before 900; Middle English; Old English thē, thȳ, instrumental case of demonstrative pronoun. See that, lest

the-

variant of theo- before a vowel: thearchy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for the

the

1

determiner (article)

used preceding a noun that has been previously specifiedthe pain should disappear soon; the man then opened the door Compare a 1
used with a qualifying word or phrase to indicate a particular person, object, etc, as distinct from othersask the man standing outside; give me the blue one Compare a 1
used preceding certain nouns associated with one's culture, society, or communityto go to the doctor; listen to the news; watch the television
used preceding present participles and adjectives when they function as nounsthe singing is awful; the dead salute you
used preceding titles and certain uniquely specific or proper nouns, such as place namesthe United States; the Honourable Edward Brown; the Chairman; the moon
used preceding a qualifying adjective or noun in certain names or titlesWilliam the Conqueror; Edward the First
used preceding a noun to make it refer to its class genericallythe white seal is hunted for its fur; this is good for the throat; to play the piano
used instead of my, your, her, etc, with parts of the bodytake me by the hand
(usually stressed) the best, only, or most remarkableHarry's is the club in this town
used with proper nouns when qualifiedwritten by the young Hardy
another word for per, esp with nouns or noun phrases of costfifty pence the pound
often facetious, or derogatory my; ourthe wife goes out on Thursdays
used preceding a unit of time in phrases or titles indicating an outstanding person, event, etcmatch of the day; player of the year

Word Origin for the

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

the

2

adverb

(often foll by for) used before comparative adjectives or adverbs for emphasisshe looks the happier for her trip
used correlatively before each of two comparative adjectives or adverbs to indicate equalitythe sooner you come, the better; the more I see you, the more I love you

Word Origin for the

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

the-

combining form

a variant of theo-
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for the

late Old English þe, nominative masculine form of the demonstrative pronoun and adjective. After c.950, it replaced earlier se (masc.), seo (fem.), þæt (neuter), and probably represents se altered by the þ- form which was used in all the masculine oblique cases (see below).

Old English se is from PIE root *so- "this, that" (cf. Sanskrit sa, Avestan ha, Greek ho, he "the," Irish and Gaelic so "this"). For the þ- forms, see that.

The s- forms were entirely superseded in English by mid-13c., excepting dialectal survival slightly longer in Kent. Old English used 10 different words for "the" (see table, below), but did not distinguish "the" from "that." That survived for a time as a definite article before vowels (cf. that one or that other).

Adverbial use in the more the merrier, the sooner the better, etc. is a relic of Old English þy, originally the instrumentive case of the neuter demonstrative þæt (see that).

Masc.Fem.Neut.Plural
Nom.seseoþætþa
Acc.þoneþaþætþa
Gen.þæsþæreþæsþara
Dat.þæmþæreþæmþæm
Inst.þy, þon--þy, þon--
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper