- the [thə; ] before vowels [thē, thi]adj., definite article[ME, indeclinable article < OE se (nom. masc. article) with th- < other case & gender forms ( thone, thæs, thære, thæm, thy): for IE base see THAT; the meaning is controlled by the basic notion “previously recognized, noticed, or encountered” in distinction to A2, AN1]I referring to a particular person, thing, or group (as opposed to a, an), as:1. that (one) being spoken of or already mentioned [the story ended]2. that (one) which is present, close, nearby, etc., as distinguished from all others viewed as remote [the day just started, the heat is oppressive]3. that (one) designated or identified, as by a title [the President (of the U.S.), the Mississippi (River)]4. that (one) considered outstanding, most fashionable, etc.: usually italicized in print [that's the restaurant in town]5. that (one) belonging to a person previously mentioned or understood [take me by the hand, rub into the face]6. one specified period of time, esp. a decade [the Dark Ages, the seventies]7. Informal that (one) who has a specific family relationship to one [the wife, the kid sister]II referring to that one of a number of persons or things which is identified by a modifier, as by:1. an attributive adjective [the front door]2. a relative clause [the man who answered]3. a prepositional phrase [the hit of the week]4. an infinitive phrase [the right to strike]5. a participle [follow the directions given]III referring to a or thing considered generically or universally, as:1. one taken as the representative of the entire genus or type [learn to use the typewriter, the cow is a domestic animal]2. an adjective used as a noun [the good, the beautiful, the true]adv.1. that much; to that extent [the better to see you with]2. by how much . . . by that much; to what extent . . . to that extent: used in a correlative construction expressing comparison [the sooner the better]prep.to each; in each; for each; per [at five dollars the half ton]
English World dictionary. V. Neufeldt. 2014.