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



    Middle English, borrowed from Old Norse þeir—nominative plural masculine of the demonstrative, which acted in Old Norse as a plural pronoun—from Proto-Germanic *þai ( “those” ), from Proto-Indo-European *to- ( “that” ). Gradually replaced Old English hi and hie .

    Cognate to Old English þā, Icelandic þeir and Swedish/Danish/Norwegian de ( “they” ) .


    • enPR: thā, IPA: /ðeɪ/, X-SAMPA: /DeI/
    • Rhymes: -eɪ


    they personal pronoun; the third person, nominative case, usually plural, but sometimes used in the singular when the gender is unknown or irrelevant ( objective case them, possessive their, possessive noun theirs, reflexive plural: themselves, reflexive singular themself )

    1. ( the third person plural: ) A group of people or objects previously mentioned .
      Fred and Jane? They just arrived .
      I have a car and a truck, but they are both broken."
    2. ( the third person singular, disputed ) A single person, previously mentioned, but of unknown or irrelevant gender. [since the 1400s]
    3. ( indefinite pronoun, vague meaning ) People; some people; someone, excluding the speaker .
      They say it’s a good place to live .
      They didn’t have computers in the old days .
      They should do something about this .
      They have a lot of snow in winter .

    Usage notes

    which is preferable to
    The doctor's advice to a pregnant woman is that they should take folic acid during their pregnancy .

    See also

    • Online Etymology Dictionary





    1. ( archaic or dialectal ) those ( used for people )

Definition of they by GCIDE Dictionary


  1. He ( hē ), pron. [nom. He; poss. His ( hĭz ); obj. Him ( hĭm ); pl. nom. They ( thā ); poss. Their or Theirs ( thârz or thārz ); obj. Them ( thĕm ).] [AS. hē, masc., heó, fem., hit, neut.; pl. hī, or hie, hig; akin to OFries. hi, D. hij, OS. he, hi, G. heute to-day, Goth. himma, dat. masc., this, hina, accus. masc., and hita, accus. neut., and prob. to L. his this. √183. Cf. It.]
    1. The man or male being ( or object personified to which the masculine gender is assigned ), previously designated; a pronoun of the masculine gender, usually referring to a specified subject already indicated.

    Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. Gen. iii. 16.

    Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve. Deut. x. 20.

    2. Any one; the man or person; -- used indefinitely, and usually followed by a relative pronoun.

    He that walketh with wise men shall be wise. Prov. xiii. 20.

    3. Man; a male; any male person; -- in this sense used substantively. Chaucer.

    I stand to answer thee,

    Or any he, the proudest of thy sort. Shak.

    ☞ When a collective noun or a class is referred to, he is of common gender. In early English, he referred to a feminine or neuter noun, or to one in the plural, as well as to noun in the masculine singular. In composition, he denotes a male animal; as, a he-goat.

  2. She pron. [sing. nom. She; poss. Her. ( ) or Hers ( ); obj. Her; pl. nom. They ; poss. Their or Theirs ( ); obj. Them] [OE. she, sche, scheo, scho, AS. seó, fem. of the definite article, originally a demonstrative pronoun; cf. OS. siu, D. zij, G. sie, OHG. siu, sī, si, Icel. sū, sjā, Goth. si she, sō, fem. article, Russ. siia, fem., this, Gr. , fem. article, Skr. sā, syā. The possessive her or hers, and the objective her, are from a different root. See Her.]
    1. This or that female; the woman understood or referred to; the animal of the female sex, or object personified as feminine, which was spoken of.

    She loved her children best in every wise. Chaucer.

    Then Sarah denied, . . . for she was afraid. Gen. xviii. 15.

    2. A woman; a female; -- used substantively. [R.]

    Lady, you are the cruelest she alive. Shak.

    ☞ She is used in composition with nouns of common gender, for female, to denote an animal of the female sex; as, a she-bear; a she-cat.

  3. They ( thā ), pron. pl.; poss. Theirs; obj. Them. [Icel. þeir they, properly nom. pl. masc. of sā, sū, þat, a demonstrative pronoun, akin to the English definite article, AS. sē, seó, ðaet, nom. pl. ðā. See That.] The plural of he, she, or it. They is never used adjectively, but always as a pronoun proper, and sometimes refers to persons without an antecedent expressed.

    Jolif and glad they went unto here [their] rest

    And casten hem [them] full early for to sail. Chaucer.

    They of Italy salute you. Heb. xiii. 24.

    Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness. Matt. v. 6.

    ☞ They is used indefinitely, as our ancestors used man, and as the French use on; as, they say ( French on dit ), that is, it is said by persons not specified.