\ before consonants usually t͟hə , before vowels usually t͟hē , sometimes before vowels also t͟hə ; for emphasis before titles and names or to suggest uniqueness often ˈt͟hē \

Definition of the 

(Entry 1 of 4)

1a used as a function word to indicate that a following noun or noun equivalent is definite or has been previously specified by context or by circumstance put the cat out

b used as a function word to indicate that a following noun or noun equivalent is a unique or a particular member of its class the Presidentthe Lord

c used as a function word before nouns that designate natural phenomena or points of the compass the night is cold

d used as a function word before a noun denoting time to indicate reference to what is present or immediate or is under consideration in the future

e used as a function word before names of some parts of the body or of the clothing as an equivalent of a possessive adjective how's the arm today

f used as a function word before the name of a branch of human endeavor or proficiency the law

g used as a function word in prepositional phrases to indicate that the noun in the phrase serves as a basis for computation sold by the dozen

h used as a function word before a proper name (as of a ship or a well-known building) the Mayflower

i used as a function word before a proper name to indicate the distinctive characteristics of a person or thing the John Doe that we know wouldn't lie

j used as a function word before the plural form of a surname to indicate all the members of a family the Johnsons

k used as a function word before the plural form of a numeral that is a multiple of ten to denote a particular decade of a century or of a person's life life in the twenties

l used as a function word before the name of a commodity or any familiar appurtenance of daily life to indicate reference to the individual thing, part, or supply thought of as at hand talked on the telephone

m used as a function word to designate one of a class as the best, most typical, best known, or most worth singling out this is the lifethe pill sometimes used before a personal name to denote the most prominent bearer of that name

2a(1) used as a function word with a noun modified by an adjective or by an attributive noun to limit the application of the modified noun to that specified by the adjective or by the attributive noun the right answerPeter the Great

(2) used as a function word before an absolute adjective or an ordinal number nothing but the bestdue on the first

b(1) used as a function word before a noun to limit its application to that specified by a succeeding element in the sentence the poet Wordsworththe days of our youthdidn't have the time to write

(2) used as a function word after a person's name to indicate a characteristic trait or notorious activity specified by the succeeding noun Jack the Ripper

3a used as a function word before a singular noun to indicate that the noun is to be understood generically the dog is a domestic animal

b used as a function word before a singular substantivized adjective to indicate an abstract idea an essay on the sublime

4 used as a function word before a noun or a substantivized adjective to indicate reference to a group as a whole the elite

the

adverb

Definition of the (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : than before : than otherwise used before a comparative none the wiser for attending

2a : to what extent the sooner the better

b : to that extent the sooner the better

3 : beyond all others likes this the best

Definition of the (Entry 3 of 4)

: per sense 2 a dollar the dozen

variants: or theo-

Definition of the- (Entry 4 of 4)

: god : God theism theocentric

How do you pronounce the?

There are two ways to pronounce that most common of words in the English language, the. Despite what you might have heard, the does not always rhyme with me and tree, and its pronunciation has nothing to do with verbs and nouns.

Here are the facts: the standard way the word is pronounced has to do with what follows it. If the word that follows the begins with a consonant sound, then it's pronounced \t͟hə\—that is, with the same vowel sound as the word of—and it is unstressed:

the water

the house

the bell

the one (Note that although "o" is a vowel, the word one begins with the sound usually made by "w," a consonant.)

If the word that follows it begins with a vowel sound, the is usually pronounced \t͟hē\ (to rhyme with me), but is also sometimes pronounced \t͟hə\, as above. Again, it is unstressed:

the owl

the hour

the eleventh

Occasionally the is stressed, for instance to provide emphasis, or before a long pause. In those cases it's pronounced \t͟hē\:

the one and only

the queen of hip-hop

the Titanic

If you're a native speaker of English, this information only confirms what you've been hearing and likely doing all your life. And as linguist Mark Liberman points out in a post at Language Log (a group blog about all things linguistic), what we hear today is what our grandparents heard all their lives, and their grandparents before them, in both American and British English.

First Known Use of the

Definite article

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Preposition

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for the

Definite article

Middle English, from Old English thē, masculine demonstrative pronoun & definite article, alteration (influenced by oblique cases — as thæs, genitive — & neuter, thæt) of ; akin to Greek ho, masculine demonstrative pronoun & definite article — more at that

Adverb

Middle English, from Old English thȳ by that, instrumental of thæt that

Preposition

the entry 1

Combining form

Middle English theo-, from Latin, from Greek the-, theo-, from theos

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Learn More about the

Dictionary Entries near the

THC

ThD

thdr

the

the-

Thea

the above

Statistics for the

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for the

The first known use of the was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for the

English Language Learners Definition of the

—used to indicate a person or thing that has already been mentioned or seen or is clearly understood from the situation

—used to refer to things or people that are common in daily life

—used to refer to things that occur in nature

\ especially before consonant sounds t͟hə , before vowel sounds t͟hē , 4 is often ˈt͟hē \

Kids Definition of the

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : that or those mentioned, seen, or clearly understood Put the cat out. I'll take the red one.

2 : that or those near in space, time, or thought What's the news?

3 : each entry 1 There are 40 cookies to the box.

4 : that or those considered best, most typical, or most worth singling out She is the person for this job.

5 : any one typical of or standing for the entire class named Here are useful tips for the beginner.

6 : all those that are the British

the

adverb

Kids Definition of the (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : than before I feel none the wiser for asking.

2 : to what extent : by how much The faster you go, the sooner you'll finish.

3 : to that extent : by that much The more you think, the more you'll learn.

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More from Merriam-Webster on the

See words that rhyme with the

Spanish Central: Translation of the

Nglish: Translation of the for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of the for Arabic Speakers

Comments on the

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