the


the
I. definite article Etymology: Middle English, from Old English thē, masculine demonstrative pronoun & definite article, alteration (influenced by oblique cases — as thæs, genitive — & neuter, thæt) of sē; akin to Greek ho, masculine demonstrative pronoun & definite article — more at that Date: before 12th century 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
>
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
>
c. — used as a function word before nouns that designate natural phenomena or points of the compass <
the night is cold
>
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
>
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
>
f. — used as a function word before the name of a branch of human endeavor or proficiency <
the law
>
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
>
h. — used as a function word before a proper name (as of a ship or a well-known building) <
the Mayflower
>
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
>
j. — used as a function word before the plural form of a surname to indicate all the members of a family <
the Johnsons
>
k. — used as a functon 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
>
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
>
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 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
>
(2) — used as a function word before an absolute adjective or an ordinal number <
nothing but the best
>
<
due on the first
>
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
>
(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
>
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
>
b. — used as a function word before a singular substantivized adjective to indicate an abstract idea <
an essay on the sublime
>
4. — used as a function word before a noun or a substantivized adjective to indicate reference to a group as a whole <
the elite
>
II. adverb Etymology: Middle English, from Old English thȳ by that, instrumental of thæt that Date: before 12th century 1. than before ; than otherwise — used before a comparative <
none the wiser for attending
>
2. a. to what extent <
the sooner the better
>
b. to that extent <
the sooner the better
>
3. beyond all others <
likes this the best
>
III. preposition Etymology: 1the Date: 15th century per 2 <
a dollar the dozen
>

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

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