The

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The

Post by Archived Topic » Tue Oct 12, 2004 3:08 pm

The word that I am seeking the origin to is neither unusual or uncommon; in fact, it's the most oftused word in the English language--the word "The." Any insight you can provide about its origins would be very much appreciated.
Lee Recca, Denver, Colorado
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The

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Oct 12, 2004 3:22 pm

Lee, I was going to tell you to check our suggested link to the “Compact Oxford English Dictionary,’ but to my surprise, when I tried to look it up, I found THE wasn’t there – strange. But maybe since it is a ‘compact’ dictionary, it couldn’t be bothered! (<:) If you check most dictionaries, however, they don’t have too much to say on its etymology anyway. Etymology dictionaries, such as ‘Dictionary of Word Origins’ by Ayto or the ‘Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology’ do have a bit more to say:

THE, definite article, [Old English]: Old English (about 950) ‘thē’ developed from adjective use of ‘thē,’ nominative masculine form of the demonstrative pronoun and adjective and replacing earlier nominative forms of the Old English definite article ‘se’ (masculine), ‘sēo’ (feminine), and thœt (neuter – ancestor of modern English ‘that’). In the late Old English period ‘se’ was replaced by ‘the,’ probably an eroded version of ‘that’ and perhaps the same word as the Old English relative particle ‘the.’ Its drafting in to take the place of ‘se’ was no doubt promoted by the fact that all the inflected forms of the Old English definite article (‘thone,’ ‘thœm,’ ‘thœs,’ etc.) began with ‘th-.’ When the distinction between genders began to die out in the early Middle English period, ‘the’ took over as the general form.
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Ken G – November 13, 2003


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Post by Archived Reply » Tue Oct 12, 2004 3:37 pm

Whoops, In the above interpret ‘&#275’ as an ‘e’ with a bar over it [in ‘the’ and ‘seo’ (feminine)]. It appears that particular symbol is not part of the Wordwizard’s character set.

Ken G – November 13, 2003

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