One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1third person singular Used to refer to a man, boy, or male animal previously mentioned or easily identified.‘everyone liked my father—he was the perfect gentleman’
- ‘Shane has a nice little punch, but he never hurt me with a solid shot.’
- ‘Everything he's been involved in has become a fiasco.’
- ‘When Wynton Marsalis is in town, he's there almost every night.’
- ‘I've never seen him act this way, he's going crazy’
- ‘Rosen felt excited as he walked into the office.’
- ‘I think he knows it was wrong and he knows he's going to make it right.’
- ‘If you let him get to you mentally, he's already won the race’
- ‘Most of the star horses he has trained have been great battlers - just like O'Brien himself.’
- ‘Calopresti has made only three films so far, yet he is already a major force in Italian cinema.’
- ‘Then he won't even admit he's done anything wrong.’
- 1.1 Used to refer to a person or animal of unspecified sex (in modern use, now chiefly replaced by ‘he or she’ or ‘they’): see usage note below)‘every child needs to know that he is loved’
- ‘The student is not an object of the teacher's efforts, he is a partner searching for the ways leading to scientific truths.’
- ‘From the very beginning, love and nurture your child so he can begin to feel connected to others.’
- 1.2 Any person (in modern use, now chiefly replaced by ‘anyone’ or ‘the person’: see usage note below)‘he who is silent consents’
- ‘He who is spiritual judges all things.’
- ‘I am the djinn of Timbuktu. He that finds me has two wishes.’
- ‘Usually, he who has possession of the land may be trusted to make the best use of it.’
- ‘Yet if one is filled with dread and loathing, he is also filled with awe.’
- 1.3West Indian Him or his.‘don't tell he nothing more’
- ‘The fellas in the village used to threaten to beat he up.’
- ‘The magistrate and Big Joe wasn't no friends, cause almost every week Big Joe used to be haul up in front of he for some offence he do the night before.’
- ‘Is not easy work but he could control things at he own pace.’
1in singular A male; a man.‘is that a he or a she?’
- ‘She's really a he, by the name of Irwin.’
- ‘For a few weeks now, Will had known that Johnny wasn't really a he, he was a she.’
- ‘So he just made the decision - or she, it could be a he or she - to land this aircraft at the closest airport.’
- 1.1in combination Male.‘a he-goat’masculine, to do with men, he-View synonyms
2British (in children's games) the player who has to catch the others; ‘it’.
Until relatively recently he was used to refer to a person of unspecified sex, as in every child needs to know that he is loved, but this is now generally regarded as old-fashioned or sexist. Since the 18th century they has been an alternative to he in this sense (everyone needs to feel that they matter), where it occurs after an indefinite pronoun such as everyone or someone. It is becoming more and more accepted both in speech and in writing, and is used as the norm in this dictionary. Another alternative is he or she, though this can become tiresomely long-winded when used frequently.
Old English he, hē, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hij.
The chemical element helium.
3His or Her Excellency.
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