\ ˈt͟hā How to pronounce they (audio) \

Definition of they

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : those ones used as third person pronoun serving as the plural of he, she, or it or referring to a group of two or more individuals not all of the same sex they dance well
b : he entry 1 sense 2 often used with an indefinite third person singular antecedent everyone knew where they stood— E. L. Doctorownobody has to go to school if they don't want toN. Y. Times
2 : people sense 2 used in a generic sense as lazy as they come

the Y


Definition of the Y (Entry 2 of 2)

US, informal
: the YMCA (an international organization originally for young men that provides social programs, a place for athletic activities, etc., for the people in a community) or the YWCA (a similar international organization for the people and especially the women in a community) also : the building owned and operated by the YMCA or the YWCA I'm going to the Y after work tonight.

Can they be used as an indefinite subject?: Usage Guide

Pronoun, plural in construction

They used as an indefinite subject (sense 2) is sometimes objected to on the grounds that it does not have an antecedent. Not every pronoun requires an antecedent, however. The indefinite they is used in all varieties of contexts and is standard.

Can they, their, them, and themselves be used as singular pronouns?: Usage Guide

Pronoun, plural in construction

They, their, them, themselves: English lacks a common-gender third person singular pronoun that can be used to refer to indefinite pronouns (such as everyone, anyone, someone). Writers and speakers have supplied this lack by using the plural pronouns. and every one to rest themselves betake — William Shakespeare I would have everybody marry if they can do it properly — Jane Austen it is too hideous for anyone in their senses to buy — W. H. Auden The plural pronouns have also been put to use as pronouns of indefinite number to refer to singular nouns that stand for many persons. 'tis meet that some more audience than a mother, since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear the speech — William Shakespeare a person can't help their birth — W. M. Thackeray no man goes to battle to be killed. — But they do get killed — G. B. Shaw The use of they, their, them, and themselves as pronouns of indefinite gender and indefinite number is well established in speech and writing, even in literary and formal contexts. This gives you the option of using the plural pronouns where you think they sound best, and of using the singular pronouns (such as he, she, he or she, and their inflected forms) where you think they sound best.

First Known Use of they

Pronoun, plural in construction

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for they

Pronoun, plural in construction

Middle English, from Old Norse their, masculine plural demonstrative & personal pronoun; akin to Old English thæt that

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Time Traveler for they

The first known use of they was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for they



English Language Learners Definition of they

: those people, animals, or things
used to refer to people in a general way or to a group of people who are not specified
: he or she


\ ˈt͟hā How to pronounce they (audio) \

Kids Definition of they

: those individuals : those ones

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More from Merriam-Webster on they

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with they

Spanish Central: Translation of they

Nglish: Translation of they for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of they for Arabic Speakers

Comments on they

What made you want to look up they? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


of or relating to the heavens

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