Definition of The by Merriam-Webster

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

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

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

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

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

— 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

— 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

— 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

3 a — 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

used as a function word after a person’s name to indicate a characteristic trait or notorious activity specified by the succeeding noun

— 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

— 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

— 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

(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

used as a function word before a noun to limit its application to that specified by a succeeding element in the sentence

— used as a function word before a noun to limit its application to that specified by a succeeding element in the sentence the poet Wordsworth the days of our youth

— used as a function word before a noun to limit its application to that specified by a succeeding element in the sentence the poet Wordsworth the days of our youth didn’t have the time to write

— used as a function word before a noun to limit its application to that specified by a succeeding element in the sentence the poet Wordsworth the days of our youth didn’t have the time to write

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 Wordsworth the days of our youth didn’t have the time to write

— used as a function word before an absolute adjective or an ordinal number nothing but the best due on the first

— used as a function word before an absolute adjective or an ordinal number nothing but the best due on the first

— used as a function word before an absolute adjective or an ordinal number nothing but the best due on the first

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

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

— 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 answer Peter the Great

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— 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 answer Peter the Great

— 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 answer Peter the Great

2 a (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 answer Peter the Great

sometimes used before a personal name to denote the most prominent bearer of that name

— sometimes used before a personal name to denote the most prominent bearer of that name

used as a function word to designate one of a class as the best, most typical, best known, or most worth singling out

— 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 life the pill

— 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 life the pill

— 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 life the pill

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 life the pill — sometimes used before a personal name to denote the most prominent bearer of that name

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

— 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

— 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

— 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

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

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

— 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

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— 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

— 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— 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

— 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

— 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

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

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

— 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

— 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

— 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

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

used as a function word before names of some parts of the body or of the clothing as an equivalent of a possessive adjective

— 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

— 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

— 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

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

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

— 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

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— 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

— 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

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

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

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

— 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 President the Lord

— 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 President the Lord

— 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 President the Lord

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 President the Lord

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

— 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

— 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

— 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

1 a — 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

Frequently Asked Questions About the

How do you pronounce the?

There are two main ways to pronounce this little word, based largely on what word follows it. If the is followed by a word which begins with a consonant sound (such as water), then it’s pronounced t͟hə—that is, with the same vowel sound as the word of. However, if the word following it begins with a vowel sound (such as orange), the is usually pronounced t͟hē (to rhyme with me) (but is also sometimes pronounced t͟hə, as above).

Is the the most common word in English?

Probably. Vocabulary varies from person to person, and there are likewise differences between the words used in spoken and written language, but the tends to top the list of most commonly used words found in collections of written text.

Can the be trademarked?

It can be attempted, as The Ohio State University tried to do in 2019; the school was unsuccessful in this attempt. The Ohio State was not the first entity to seek a trademark for the word the; clothing designer Marc Jacobs has also asked the patent office for a trademark on this word.

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