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
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.