From Middle English thou, tho, thogh, thoue, thou?, thow, thowe, tou, towe, thu, thue, thugh, tu, you (Northern England), ðhu, þeou, þeu, þou (the latter three early Southwest England), from Old English þ?, from Proto-Germanic *þ? ("you (singular), thou"), from Proto-Indo-European *túh? ("you, thou"). The English word is cognate with Ancient Greek (sú) (Doric Ancient Greek (tú), Greek (esý)), Irish tu, Gothic (þu), Latin tu, Lithuanian tu, Old Church Slavonic ty (ty), Old Dutch th? (Middle Dutch du, Limburgish doe), Old Frisian th? (West Frisian do), Old High German d? (German du), Old Norse þú, (Danish du, Faroese tú, Icelandic þú, Norwegian du, Old Swedish þu (Swedish du)), Old Saxon th? (Low German du), Welsh ti, Armenian (du), Persian (to).
thou (plural ye, objective case thee, reflexive thyself, possessive determiner thy or thine, possessive pronoun thine)
- (archaic, dialectal, formal, literary or religion) Singular nominative form of you. [chiefly up to early 17th c.]
1678, John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That which is to Come: [...], London: Printed for Nath[aniel] Ponder [...], OCLC 228725984; reprinted in The Pilgrim's Progress (The Noel Douglas Replicas), London: Noel Douglas, [...], 1928, OCLC 5190338, page 3:
Then said Evangelist, Keep that light in your eye, and go up directly thereto: so shalt thou see the Gate; at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do.
1742, John Wesley; Charles Wesley, "Wrestling Jacob [Come O, Thou Traveller Unknown]", in Hymns and Sacred Poems, Bristol: Printed and sold by Felix Farley, [...], OCLC 219992120, part II, stanza 1, page 115:
Come, O Thou Traveller unknown, / Whom still I hold, but cannot see, / My Company before is gone, / And I am left alone with Thee, / With Thee all Night I mean to stay, / And wrestle till the Break of Day.
1742 April 4, Charles Wesley, A Sermon Preached on Sunday, April 4, 1742. Before the University of Oxford, London: Printed by J. Paramore, [...], published 1783, OCLC 877568242, page 10:
Art thou in earnest about thy soul? and canst thou tell the Searcher of Hearts, Thou, O God, art the thing that I long for? Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I would love thee?
1843 December 19, Charles Dickens, "Stave Four. The Last of the Spirits.", in A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, London: Chapman & Hall, [...], OCLC 55746801, page 137:
Oh cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up thine altar here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy command: for this is thy dominion!
1882 November 25 (first performance), W[illiam] S[chwenck] Gilbert; Arthur Sullivan, music, [...] Iolanthe; or, The Peer and the Peri, London: Chappell & Co., [...], published [1885?], OCLC 560801973, Act I, page 10:
And everyone who'd marry a Ward / Must come to me for my accord, / And in my court I sit all day, / Giving agreeable girls away, / [...] / And one for thou--and one for thee-- / But never, oh never a one for me! / Which is exasperating, for / A highly susceptible Chancellor!
2014 October 30, Ben Brantley, "When the head leads the heart: 'The Real Thing,' With Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal, opens on Broadway [print version: When the witty head is far ahead of the heart: Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ewan McGregor star in revival of 'Real Thing', International New York Times, 4 November 2014, page 9]", in The New York Times, archived from the original on 11 July 2019: [I]ts main character, Henry (Mr. [Ewan] McGregor), is a successful, intellectual dramatist who seems quite capable of churning out fizzy, challenging works about brilliant but ambivalent revolutionaries, philosophers, etc. [...] But this cleverer-than-thou creature gets his comeuppance in "The Real Thing," showing that a very human heart - just like those possessed by the less sesquipedalian - beats beneath his fancy words.
- Thou is used with the archaic second-person singular of verbs, which usually ends in -est, as in, for example, "Lovest thou me?" Irregular forms include: art (of be), hast (of have), shalt (of shall), wost (of wit), wilt (of will), and dost (of do).
- Many old uses of thou and ye followed the T-V distinction, thou being the informal pronoun.
singular nominative form of you
- Arabic: (ar) m (?anta), (ar) f (?anti)
- Egyptian Arabic: m (ínta), f (ínti)
- Tunisian Arabic: m or f (?inti)
- Armenian: (hy) (du)
- Assamese: (toi), ? (tumi) (apuni)
- Belarusian: (be) (ty)
- Bengali: (tui)
- Bulgarian: (bg) (ti)
- Catalan: tu (ca)
- Mandarin: ? (zh) (n?), ? (zh) (n?) (to God), (archaic) ? (zh), ? (zh) (?r), ? (zh) (r?)
- Czech: ty (cs)
- Dalmatian: te
- Danish: du (da)
- Dutch: gij (nl) (archaic or dialectal), jij (nl)
- Esperanto: ci (eo)
- Faroese: tú
- Finnish: sinä (fi)
- French: tu (fr) m or f
- Galician: ti (gl) m or f
- Georgian: (ka) (?en)
- German: du (de), Du (de)
- Gothic: (þu)
- Hebrew: (he) m (atá), (he) f (at)
- Hindi: (hi) (tum), (hi) (t?)
- Hungarian: te (hu)
- Icelandic: þú (is)
- Ido: tu (io)
- Indonesian: kamu (id)
- Irish: tú
- Italian: tu (it)
- Japanese: ? (ja) (, kimi), ? (ja) (, nanji), (ja) (, omae), (ja) (anata)
- Karakhanid: ? (sen)
- Korean: (ko) (dangsin) ( (ko)), ? (ko) (neo), ? (ko) (ne)
- Latin: tu (la)
- Lithuanian: tu (lt)
English personal pronouns
From Late Middle English thouen, theu, thew, thou, thowe, thowen, thui, thuy ("to address (a person) with thou, particularly in a contemptuous or polite manner"), from the pronoun thou: see etymology 1 above.
thou (third-person singular simple present thous, present participle thouing, simple past and past participle thoued)
- (transitive) To address (a person) using the pronoun thou, especially as an expression of contempt or familiarity.
- Synonym: thee
- Antonym: you
Don't thou them as thous thee! - a Yorkshire English admonition to overly familiar children
c. 1530, "Hickscorner", in W[illiam] Carew Hazlitt, editor, A Select Collection of Old English Plays. Originally Published by Robert Dodsley in the Year 1744. [...], volume I, 4th edition, London: Reeves and Turner, [...], published 1874, page 180: Avaunt, caitiff, dost thou thou me! / I am come of good kin, I tell thee! / My mother was a lady of the stews' blood born, / And (knight of the halter) my father ware an horn; / Therefore I take it in full great scorn, / That thou shouldest thus check me.
c. 1601-1602, William Shakespeare, "Twelfe Night, or VVhat You VVill", in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene ii], page 266: [T]aunt him with the license of Inke: if thou thou'st him some thrice, it shall not be amisse, and as many Lyes, as will lye in thy sheete of paper, although the sheete were bigge enough for the bedde of Ware in England, set 'em downe, go about it.
1603 November 27, "The Tryal of Sir Walter Raleigh Kt. at Winton, on Thursday the 17th of November, Anno. Dom. 1603. in the First Year of King James the First", in [Thomas Salmon], editor, A Compleat Collection of State-Tryals, and Proceedings upon Impeachment for High Treason, and Other Crimes and Misdemeanours; [...] In Four Volumes, volume I, London: Printed for Timothy Goodwin, [...]; John Walthoe [...]; Benj[amin] Tooke [...]; John Darby [...]; Jacob Tonson [...]; and John Walthoe Jun. [...], published 1719, OCLC 470588883, page 177, column 2:
1677, William Gibson, "An Answer to John Cheyney's Pamphlet Entituled The Shibboleth of Quakerism", in The Life of God, which is the Light and Salvation of Men, Exalted: [...], [London: s.n.], OCLC 802074687, page 134:
What! dost thou not believe that God's Thouing and Theeing was and is sound Speech? [...] And Theeing & Thouing of one single Person was the language of Christ Jesus, and the Holy Prophets and Apostles both under the Dispensations of Law and Gospel, [...]
1755, [Voltaire [pseudonym; François-Marie Arouet]], "Ferdinand III. Forty-seventh Emperor.", in Annals of the Empire from the Reign of Charlemagne [...] In Two Volumes, volume II, London: Printed for A[ndrew] Millar, [...], OCLC 753367451, page 257: The emperors before Rodolphus I. sent all their mandates in Latin, thouing every prince, as the grammar of that language allows. This thouing of the counts of the empire was continued in the German language which disallows such expressions.
1811, Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra, "Of Matters Relating and Appertaining to this Adventure, and to this Memorable History", in Charles Jarvis, transl., The Life and Exploits of Don Quixote de la Mancha. Translated from the Spanish [...] In Four Volumes, volume IV, London: Printed [by Harding & Wright] for Lackington, Allen, and Co. [et al.], OCLC 557751787, part II, book III, pages 57-58: Unfortunate we the duennas! though we descended in a direct male-line from Hector of Troy, our mistresses will never forbear "thouing" us, were they to be made queens for it.
1888, Rudyard Kipling, "On the City Wall", in In Black and White (A. H. Wheeler & Co.'s Indian Railway Library; no. 3), 5th edition, Allahabad: Messrs. A. H. Wheeler & Co.; London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, Ld., [...], published 1890, OCLC 849518497, page 91:
"One service more, Sahib, since thou hast come so opportunely," said Lalun. "Wilt thou"-it is very nice to be thou-ed by Lalun-"take this old man across the City--the troops are everywhere, and they might hurt him for he is old--to the Kumharsen Gate?["]
1917, Russell Osborne Stidston, "Inferiors to Superiors", in The Use of Ye in the Function of Thou in Middle English Literature from Ms. Auchinleck to Ms. Vernon: A Study of Grammar and Social Intercourse in Fourteenth-century England: [...], Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University, OCLC 459075770, section 1 (The Higher Classes to Royalty), page 22:
In Guy a duke in council thous his emperor [...] In Bevis the earl addresses the emperor of Almaine [...] while the young son of the family, Bevis, thous him not only as his father's murderer [...], but even when he is pretending friendship for him [...].
- (intransitive) To use the word thou.
- Synonym: thee
- Antonym: you
2006, Julian Dibbell, chapter 5, in Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot, New York, N.Y.: Basic Books, ->ISBN:
The hardcore role-players will wake up one day feeling, like a dead weight on their chest, the strain of endless texting in Renaissance Faire English--yet dutifully go on theeing and thouing all the same.
2009, David R. Keeston [pseudonym; Alan D. Jenkins], "Seeing God in the Ordinary", in The Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Gospel, [Morrisville, N.C.]: Lulu.com, ->ISBN, page 39:
You want to hear the word of God, and be challenged to go out and change the world. Instead, you are, for the fifth Sunday in a row, mewling on about purple-headed mountains (which is a bit of an imaginative stretch, since you live in East Anglia) and "theeing" and "thouing" all over the place.
to address (a person) using the pronoun thou
Short for thou(sandth).
thou (plural thous)
- (Britain, dated) A unit of length equal to one-thousandth of an inch.
- Synonym: mil (US)
1984, Robert D. Adams; William C. Wake, "Surface Preparation", in Structural Adhesive Joints in Engineering, Barking, Essex: Elsevier Applied Science Publishers, published 1986, DOI:10.1007/978-94-009-5616-2, ->ISBN, pages 220-221:
All these methods remove metal and can, in fact, remove a few thou from the surface. For accurately machined parts, therefore, none of these methods are suitable but wet blasting with a fine alumina which gives a polishing-cleaning action may be operated within the required tolerances.
2000, Mike Bishop; Vern Tardel, "Bells and Whistles", in How to Build a Traditional Ford Hot Rod, revised edition, Osceola, Wis.: MBI Publishing Company, ->ISBN, page 131, column 2:
Make no mistake, we're talking about some major repositioning; the rear ends of the cones didn't move just a few thou' or even 1/4 or 1/2 inch in one direction. These beauties moved around big time.
Short for thou(sand).
thou (plural thou)
- (slang) A thousand, especially a thousand of some currency (dollars, pounds sterling, etc.).
1977, Larry Pointer, "Belle Fourche", in In Search of Butch Cassidy (Red River Books), Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, published 1988, ->ISBN, page 132: Butch [Cassidy] gave him 3 thous in cash 1 thous for the lawyer another thous if the lawyer wins & 1 thous for Tom O'Day.
1999, Don Winslow, chapter 58, in California Fire and Life, New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, ->ISBN; 1st Vintage Crime/Black Lizard edition, New York, N.Y.: Vintage Books, September 2007, ->ISBN, page 169:
He has a few thou in the account, enough to make your everyday living expenses, not enough to keep current with the bigger bills.
2000 November, Sheri S[tewart] Tepper, "Benita", in The Fresco, New York, N.Y.: Eos, HarperCollins, ->ISBN; 1st Eos paperback edition, New York, N.Y.: Eos, HarperCollins, February 2002, ->ISBN, page 17:
Well, we'll need a few thou, Carlos. Got to get together a few thou first. For rent, you know. Rent and making contacts with artists, all that.
A misspelling of though.
thou (not comparable)
- Misspelling of though.
- Misspelling of though.
- ^ "th?u, pron." in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 11 July 2019.
- ^ Compare "thou, pron. and n.1", in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, March 2012; "thou1, pron." in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press.
- ^ "th?uen, v." in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 11 July 2019; "thou, v.", in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, March 2012.
- ? 4.04.1 "thou, n.2", in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, March 2012; "thou2, n." in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press.
thou (objective the, possessive determiner thy, possessive pronoun thyn)
- Alternative form of þou