[ stressed thee; unstressed before a consonant thuh; unstressed before a vowel thee ]
/ stressed ði; unstressed before a consonant ðə; unstressed before a vowel ði /

definite article



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Origin of the

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

pronunciation note for the

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 [thee], /ði/, sometimes [thi]: /ðɪ/: the apple, the end [thee or thi-ap-uhl, thee or thi-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 [thee], /ði/, although in both of these uses of the stressed form, [thee] /ði/ is often replaced by [thuh], /ðʌ/, especially among younger speakers.

Definition for the (2 of 3)

[ before a consonant thuh; before a vowel thee ]
/ before a consonant ðə; before a vowel ði /


(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

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

Definition for the (3 of 3)


variant of theo- before a vowel: thearchy. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for the (1 of 3)

/ (stressed or emphatic ðiː, unstressed before a consonant ðə, unstressed before a vowel ðɪ) /

determiner (article)

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Middle English, from Old English thē, a demonstrative adjective that later superseded (masculine singular) and sēo, sio (feminine singular); related to Old Frisian thi, thiu, Old High German der, diu

British Dictionary definitions for the (2 of 3)

/ (ðə, ðɪ) /


(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

British Dictionary definitions for the (3 of 3)


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