Definition of the in English:



  • 1Denoting one or more people or things already mentioned or assumed to be common knowledge.

    ‘what's the matter?’
    Compare with a
    ‘call the doctor’
    ‘the phone rang’
    • ‘If he's saying we're running fifth behind the leader, I know we don't have to make drastic changes.’
    • ‘Fifteen long, dull minutes passed before the door opened.’
    • ‘During September and October the days become shorter.’
    • ‘We then had to organise tickets for the passengers to travel on the buses.’
    • ‘After a nice walk, we decided to sit, watch the birds, and rest for a moment.’
    1. 1.1Used to refer to a person, place, or thing that is unique.
      ‘the Queen’
      ‘the Mona Lisa’
      ‘the Nile’
      • ‘One could find similar stories from northern Queensland or the Amazon.’
      • ‘However, when it comes to the President of India, the situation becomes entirely different.’
      • ‘Canonized with great ceremony by the Pope in 2002, Padre Pio was a Capuchin monk.’
      • ‘Who hasn't heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa?’
    2. 1.2informal Denoting a disease or affliction.
      ‘I've got the flu’
      • ‘Everyone has gone though a mild case of the blues once in their lives.’
      • ‘A person with the mumps often looks like he has chubby cheeks.’
      • ‘The whole idea gives me the creeps.’
    3. 1.3(with a unit of time) the present; the current.
      ‘dish of the day’
      ‘man of the moment’
      • ‘Has a caretaker manager in the Premiership ever won manager of the month?’
      • ‘Bodega were presented with the award by Radio 2's Folk Musician of the Year, Kathryn Tickell.’
    4. 1.4informal Used instead of a possessive to refer to someone with whom the speaker or person addressed is associated.
      ‘I'm meeting the boss’
      ‘how's the family?’
      • ‘One night, the hubby and I stopped at the next door bakery and bought some bread.’
      • ‘Are you all right? How are the kids?’
    5. 1.5Used with a surname to refer to a family or married couple.
      ‘the Johnsons were not wealthy’
      • ‘Doubtless as a result of all the tension in the Williams household, Tennessee became a compulsive traveler.’
      • ‘One of two episodes to be presented in widescreen, the pilot introduces the Browns and the rest of the Everwood folk.’
    6. 1.6Used before the surname of the chief of a Scottish or Irish clan.
      ‘the O'Donoghue’
  • 2Used to point forward to a following qualifying or defining clause or phrase.

    ‘the fuss that he made of her’
    ‘the top of a bus’
    ‘I have done the best I could’
    • ‘I also think it reasonable to infer that he was righting the vehicle in the hope that he could drive it.’
    • ‘From the first of July, mothers will be eligible for a $3,000 dollar payment, going up to $5,000 by 2008.’
    • ‘There was a tiny spot of toothpaste on the front of my shirt.’
    • ‘It was the worst day of my career.’
    • ‘I headed towards the park at the corner of Palace Avenue.’
    1. 2.1(chiefly with rulers and family members with the same name) used after a name to qualify it.
      ‘George the Sixth’
      ‘Edward the Confessor’
      ‘Jack the Ripper’
      • ‘The beginning of the Hellenistic age is defined as the rise to power of Alexander the Great.’
      • ‘He carried Russia a long way from Ivan the Terrible's ‘time of troubles’.’
      • ‘In the time of Henry the Eighth, a person who did not read Greek and Latin could read nothing, or next to nothing.’
  • 3Used to make a generalized reference to something rather than identifying a particular instance.

    ‘he taught himself to play the violin’
    ‘worry about the future’
    • ‘Lots of the singles on the CD were never on the radio here.’
    • ‘In the mornings we have lectures and in the afternoons we teach students.’
    • ‘Becky sings with our church choir and plays the piano.’
    • ‘Parents have to be a lot more careful about what their children are allowed to watch on the TV.’
    • ‘According to parents, 60 percent of children complain of feeling tired during the day.’
    • ‘To learn the drums, he tried playing along to records, a method he admitted hating.’
    1. 3.1Used with a singular noun to indicate that it represents a whole species or class.
      ‘they placed the African elephant on their endangered list’
      • ‘A streamlined fish, the mackerel is designed for fast swimming in large shoals.’
      • ‘At the turn of the 20th century, the tiger roamed free through vast parts of Asia.’
    2. 3.2Used with an adjective to refer to those people who are of the type described.
      ‘the unemployed’
      • ‘He was the good, the bad and the ugly in one person.’
      • ‘Having occupied the country from the early 1900s, the French contributed much in the way of education.’
      • ‘This trend especially threatens children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.’
      • ‘The government doles out about $117 billion to cover the health care costs of the unfit and obese.’
    3. 3.3Used with an adjective to refer to something of the class or quality described.
      ‘they are trying to accomplish the impossible’
      • ‘I was not surprised to see him standing there alone, but I was hoping for the unexpected.’
      • ‘Ginger and her sister Brigitte are suburban teenagers with a taste for the macabre.’
      • ‘Sometimes I can say the unsayable.’
    4. 3.4Used with the name of a unit to state a rate.
      ‘they can do 120 miles to the gallon’
      • ‘If you fly into wind you will get much less mileage to the litre.’
      • ‘These annual levies are only a few cents in the dollar.’
      • ‘The Ballet School has some pianists on salary; others are paid by the hour.’
  • 4Enough of (a particular thing)

    ‘he hoped to publish monthly, if only he could find the money’
    • ‘Her only hope is to travel to Europe and receive experimental treatments - a trip she doesn't have the money for.’
    • ‘A significant 42% never get the time to take their full entitlement to annual leave.’
    • ‘We had to put bins where we had the space, and that's caused our system to be scattered.’
  • 5(pronounced stressing “the”) used to indicate that someone or something is the best known or most important of that name or type.

    ‘he was the hot young piano prospect in jazz’
    • ‘Zutty Singleton was the drummer in Chicago.’
    • ‘If you'd like to understand the teenager in your family a little better then Crossroads is the film to watch.’
    • ‘The Marina is the place to be Easter Sunday if you enjoy quality jazz music.’
  • 6Used adverbially with comparatives to indicate how one amount or degree of something varies in relation to another.

    ‘the more she thought about it, the more devastating it became’
    • ‘The sooner they declare it illegal, the better for all concerned.’
    • ‘The older Tom gets, the less he understands them.’
    • ‘The more I learned, the more I found his theories to be flawed.’
    1. 6.1Used to emphasize the amount or degree to which something is affected.
      ‘commodities made all the more desirable by their rarity’
      • ‘If it were possible for them to come up with an agreed contents of the application book then the preparation of it will be so much the quicker.’
      • ‘Several of those people left the church, and we are the better for it.’
      • ‘Excellent engineering makes this CD all the more attractive.’


The article the is usually pronounced /T͟Hə/ before a consonant sound (please pass the potatoes) and /T͟Hē/ before a vowel sound (please pass the asparagus). Regardless of consonant and vowel sounds, when the desired effect following the is to emphasize exclusivity, the pronunciation is /T͟Hē/: she's not just any expert in vegetation management, she's the expert


Old English (Northumbrian and North Mercian dialects) thē; related to Dutch de, dat, and German der, die, das.