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the 1 (thēbefore a vowel; thəbefore a consonant)
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def.art.
1.
a. Used before singular or plural nouns and noun phrases that denote particular, specified persons or things: the baby; the dress I wore.
b. Used before a noun, and generally stressed, to emphasize one of a group or type as the most outstanding or prominent: considered Wicker Park to be the neighborhood to live in these days.
c. Used to indicate uniqueness: the Prince of Wales; the moon.
d. Used before nouns that designate natural phenomena or points of the compass: the weather; a wind from the south.
e. Used as the equivalent of a possessive adjective before names of some parts of the body: grab him by the neck; an infection of the hand.
f. Used before a noun specifying a field of endeavor: the law; the film industry; the stage.
g. Used before a proper name, as of a monument or ship: the Alamo; the Titanic.
h. Used before the plural form of a numeral denoting a specific decade of a century or of a lifespan: rural life in the Thirties.
2. Used before a singular noun indicating that the noun is generic: The loggerhead turtle is an endangered species.
3.
a. Used before an adjective extending it to signify a class and giving it the function of a noun: the rich; the dead; the homeless.
b. Used before an absolute adjective: the best we can offer.
4. Used before a present participle, signifying the action in the abstract: the weaving of rugs.
5. Used before a noun with the force of per: cherries at $1.50 the box.

[Middle English, from Old English, alteration (influenced by , th-, oblique case stem of demonstrative pron.) of se, masculine demonstrative pron.; see so- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
the 2 (thēbefore a vowel; thəbefore a consonant)
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adv.
1. To that extent; by that much. Used before a comparative: the sooner the better.
2. Beyond any other: enjoyed reading the most.

[Middle English, from Old English thȳ, thē, instrumental of thæt, neuter demonstrative pron.; see to- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
the-
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pref.
Variant of theo-.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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