Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of the
Meaning of the by Wiktionary Dictionary


    Alternative forms


    Etymology 1

    From Middle English, from Old English þē ( “the, that”, demonstrative pronoun ), a late variant of sē ( “that, the” ). Originally masculine nominative, in Middle English it superseded all previous Old English forms ( sē, sēo, þæt, þā ), from Proto-Germanic *sa ( “that” ), from Proto-Indo-European *só, *to-, *tód ( “demonstrative pronoun” ). Cognate with Dutch de, die ( “the, that” ), Low German de, dat ( “the, that” ), German der, die, das ( “the, that” ), Danish den ( “the, that” ), Swedish den ( “the, that” ), Icelandic það ( “that” ) .



    1. Definite grammatical article that implies necessarily that an entity it articulates is presupposed; something already mentioned, or completely specified later in that same sentence, or assumed already completely specified. [from 10th c.]
      I’m reading the book. ( Compare I’m reading a book. )
      The street in front of your house. ( Compare A street in Paris. )
      The men and women watched the man give the birdseed to the bird .
    2. Used before an object considered to be unique, or of which there is only one at a time. [from 10th c.]
      No one knows how many galaxies there are in the universe .
      God save the Queen!
    3. With a superlative, it and that superlative refer to one object. [from 9th c.]
      That apple pie was the best .
    4. Introducing a term to be taken generically; preceding a name of something standing for a whole class. [from 9th c.]
    5. Used before an adjective, indicating all things ( especially persons ) described by that adjective. [from 9th c.]
      Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable .
    6. Used to indicate a certain example of ( a noun ) which is most usually of concern, or most common or familiar. [from 12th c.]
      No one in the whole country had seen it before .
      I don't think I'll get to it until the morning .
    7. Used before a body part ( especially of someone previously mentioned ), as an alternative to a possessive pronoun. [from 12th c.]
      A stone hit him on the head. ( = “A stone hit him on his head.” )
    8. When stressed, indicates that it describes an object which is considered to be best or exclusively worthy of attention. [from 18th c.]
      That is the hospital to go to for heart surgery .
    Usage notes
    Derived terms

    Etymology 2

    From Middle English, from Old English þȳ ( “by that, after that, whereby” ), originally the instrumental case of the demonstratives sē ( masculine ) and þæt ( neuter ). Cognate with Dutch des te ( "the, the more" ), German desto ( "the, all the more" ), Norwegian fordi ( "because" ), Icelandic því ( “because” ) .


    the ( not comparable )

    1. With a comparative or more and a verb phrase, establishes a parallel with one or more other such comparatives .
      The hotter, the better .
      The more I think about it, the weaker it looks .
      The more money donated, the more books purchased, and the more happy children .
      It looks weaker and weaker, the more I think about it .
    2. With a comparative, and often with for it, indicates a result more like said comparative. This can be negated with none .
      It was a difficult time, but I’m the wiser for it .
      It was a difficult time, and I’m none the wiser for it .
      I'm much the wiser for having had a difficult time like that .

    See also


    • frequency based on Project Gutenberg corpus">Most common English words before 1923: #1: the · of · and · to


    • ETH, Eth, eth, het, TEH, teh

Definition of the by GCIDE Dictionary


  1. The ( thē ), v. i. See Thee. [Obs.] Chaucer. Milton.

  2. The ( thē, when emphatic or alone; the, obscure before a vowel; the, obscure before a consonant; 37 ), definite article. [AS. ðē, a later form for earlier nom. sing. masc. sē, formed under the influence of the oblique cases. See That, pron.] A word placed before nouns to limit or individualize their meaning.

    ☞ The was originally a demonstrative pronoun, being a weakened form of that. When placed before adjectives and participles, it converts them into abstract nouns; as, the sublime and the beautiful. Burke. The is used regularly before many proper names, as of rivers, oceans, ships, etc.; as, the Nile, the Atlantic, the Great Eastern, the West Indies, The Hague. The with an epithet or ordinal number often follows a proper name; as, Alexander the Great; Napoleon the Third. The may be employed to individualize a particular kind or species; as, the grasshopper shall be a burden. Eccl. xii. 5.

  3. The, adv. [AS. ðē, ðȳ, instrumental case of sē, seó, ðæt, the definite article. See 2d The.] By that; by how much; by so much; on that account; -- used before comparatives; as, “the longer we continue in sin, the more difficult it is to reform”. “Yet not the more cease I.” Milton.

    So much the rather thou, Celestial Light,

    Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers

    Irradiate. Milton.