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Spell My Name With A The / Real Life

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Spell My Name with a "The" in real life.


  • 'Der Führer' ('the Leader' or 'the Guide') a.k.a. Adolf Hitler.
  • What about His Holiness, The Dalai Lama?
  • As well as il papa himself, The Pope.
  • Her Majesty the Queen, aka Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, and arguably the most famous monarch in the world.
  • Can also extend to inanimate objects and/or ideas. Ask the more pretentious faculty or alumni of The Ohio State University, who almost seem to be distinguishing themselves from some other, inferior Ohio State. It actually is officially chartered with "The" as part of the name, but the emphasis placed on "The" is an effective way of annoying the fans and alumni of their football rivals like the University of Michigannote — not to mention Ohio's numerous other state universities — which of course guarantees that Ohio State fans will always continue the practice.
    • The University of York (in the UK) is very particular about its name, because York University is in Canada.
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    • Two for one: "The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina" is the official name of that school in Charleston.
    • Of course, then there's The U. (Most state schools will refer to themselves as this, so if you're telling someone outside your state what college you went to and say The U, they'll have a totally different school in mind. Or they might not have a clue at all—for example, none of Kentucky's universities is ever locally referred to as "The U".)
      • The players who played at the University of Miami introduce themselves as being from "The U" during the opening of Sunday Night Football broadcasts on NBC. This is because of the "U" logo on the side of the school's football helmets. Football fans generally understand this but it might confuse those who are just casual fans. And don't even get into Miami of Ohio.
      • The University of Utah has extra justification for being called The U, but also goes by The U of U.
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    • The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
    • The Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the first university in the U.S. founded specifically to educate blacks, added the The to its name in 2013 to distinguish itself from other universities with Lincoln in their names.note 
    • A certain university is officially called The Johns Hopkins University, but no one, even students and faculty, uses the "The" except in mockery.
    • It's The University of Chicago, not University of Chicago, in official terms. The school also refers to their undergraduate division as The College.
  • Donald Trump, a.k.a. "The Donald". Also his brief-tenured White House Communications Director Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci.
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  • David "The Hoff" Hasselhoff.
  • Some American Indian names are given in this way, such as the early 19th century Cherokee war leader The Ridge.
  • According to Martin Brodeur's autobiography, legendary ice hockey bust Alexandre Daigle likes to be called "The Daigle".
  • Like the T-shirt says, "I'm not A bitch, I'm THE bitch!"
  • There are several countries like this, including the Netherlands, the Sudan, the Philippines, the United States, the UK, and just about any country that starts with "The Republic" or similar. Also, many geographic regions are like this too, especially places that used to be the (former). In some cases, the name doesn't make much sense without the definite article (e.g. the Philippines, the US, the UK, the Czech Republic—though the latter is now also known as Czechia), while some seem to just have it there (e.g. Sudan).
    • It is an integral part of the name of The Bahamas and The Gambia (it should always be capitalized in these instances).
    • Some countries take a definite article in Arabic. These are not always the same ones that take a definite article in English. Iraq, for example, is literally "the Iraq." This is also the reason (the) Sudan takes the definite article: in Arabic (the language of most Sudanese), it's al-Suudaan, "the Sudan", with "Sudan" meaning "Land of the Blacks" (since the Sudanese are for the most part Black).
      • And it's not just Arab countries that get this weirdness: Austria is al-Nimsaa (from Niemcy, a common Slavic name for German-speakers; it probably came from South Slavic via Turkish), and Argentina, which is al-Arjentiin.
      • The same happens in some Romance languages, like Argentinian and Peruvian Spanish: some countries are named with a definite article, such as la Argentina, el Perú, el Japón (Japan), el Canada, etc. On the other hand, other dialects, like the Mexican one, avoid this like a plague, since it's considered outdated speech. The only exception to this rule is la India, albeit it's starting to fall into disuse in some circles. A French example is the name for Louisiana (La Louisiane).
    • And subverting this: despite being the Ukraine in the popular mind due to 19th century translations ("Ukrayina" derives from a term for "Borderland"), the country is officially merely "Ukraine". While the Ukrainian language had no articles, the Ukrainian translators just assumed you were supposed to put one in English. "The" has been falling out of usage as of late, with "Ukraine" gaining popularity.
      • Similar things have happened to (the) Crimea.
    • Old colonial names for different countries often had this, as they were often seen as regions that were expanded into rather than sovereign states: "the Canadas", "the Belgian (or French) Congo", etc. Sometimes, different English-speaking countries will use these names (e.g. Argentina vs. the Argentine). As well, names like "the Americas", "the Koreas", and so forth exist when there's more than one of a country or continent, and they're both/all being referenced at once.
    • The country now known as North Macedonia had this trait, but in a really weird way. Before the country, known as "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" before 2019, settled its naming dispute with Greece, the UN had to make a huge number of compromises so as not to piss off anybody, and one of them involved officially sorting "the FYROM" under "The".
  • The painter Doménikos Theotokópoulos, who worked in Spain, was understandably known as El Greco, the Greek (though the modern Spanish word for 'Greek' is Griego; Greco is good Italian).
  • Bill Murray tells a story about calling to accept an invitation for a pro-am golf tournament, and being asked "Are you THE Bill Murray?" and replying "Well, I'm A Bill Murray." When he shows up without his packet and badge and the guard won't let him in, he talks the guard into calling the director to tell her that Bill Murray's at the gate, and she shoots back "Is it A Bill Murray?"
  • Using this trope for first names is not uncommon, cross-linguistically.
    • It's canon in Modern Greek, among many other languages. Ancient Greek also could use an article with a name, especially if the named was famous ('the Socrates').
    • This is extremely common in Portuguese speech.
    • Italian is somewhat weird about first names: the article before is considered canon only for female first names. While the construction is identical (and it is often used informally) it's considered a grammatical error to use it before male names.
      • Actually, using articles for first names is typical of northern dialects rather than the general language. For last names the use is more general, and almost only used for women.
    • In the informal Spanish of various countries, people are often referred to with the definite article — "El Manuel fue a la tienda" ("The Manuel went to the store") is a perfectly valid sentence, albeit technically incorrect grammatically.
    • It's the same in Portuguese: "O Manoel foi à loja". Also while people use to call their parents mom and dad in english it's usual to call them "O pai" ou "A mãe" (the father, the mother). Like in "O pai perguntou que horas você chega em casa" (The father asked what time you'll get home". When you're talking to someone, you drop the "the" from that person's name.
    • Spoken non-formal German (varying a bit by region) often uses the definitive article together with names (first, family, and full): "die Marie", "der/die [Herr/Frau] Schmidt", "die Marie Schmidt". It's also common as 'standard usage' in various German dialects (sometimes with added inversion of family and first name). Additionally the article can be used with famous people.
    • "Le / La + first name" also works in French, though it's not considered "standard".
      • Similarly, "Le / La + surname or nickname" is sometimes seen as a sobriquet for a notable person. This applies not only to French but other European languages; for example, Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida was sometimes nicknamed "La Lollo".
    • In Hungarian, using "a", the equivalent of "the", before names ("a Tibor, a Klára") was originally considered rude, but lately it seems to be becoming prevalent in all but the most formal of situations.
    • This is a rule in Catalan, except for some western dialects. For example "La Maria va anar a la botiga ahir" (The Maria went to the store yesterday) not just "Maria". There is even a special subset of "personal articles" en, na and n' for names, used especially frequently in the Balearic dialects.
    • In fact, the cross-linguistic frequency of occurrence, combined with the fact that nouns have to have determiners in most formal models of syntax, and the fact that we can use an explicit determiner in rare cases in English (e.g. "The James who I met at the party yesterday must have been the same James you met last weekend."; also, the humor in the Bill Murray quote depends on knowledge of the pragmatics of usage of the explicit determiner), has led linguists to posit a special "before-proper-nouns null determiner". In other words, everyone is using an equivalent of the word "the" before proper nouns; it's just that the pronunciation of it is nothing at all.
  • El Cid (a Spanish term with an Arabic etymology) is almost always called El Cid or the Cid. It translates to The Master.
  • The WB Television Network, and its successor The CW. Most affiliates leave "The" out of their local branding.
  • The Donway is a road in Toronto, Ontario whose numerical addresses all have the "The" at the front of "Donway". The address of Don Mills Collegiate Institute, for example, is 15 The Donway East.
    • Similarly The Queensway. The address of St. Joseph's is 30 The Queensway.
    • Similarly The Alameda, San Jose, and The Embarcadero, San Francisco, California.
  • One historic street in Richmond, Virginia is known locally as "the Boulevard", although its street signs read only "Boulevard".
  • Diseases on the east coast of Canada often get this nomenclature, as in: "Oh, she's down with a right case of the pneumonia, she is."
    • Gout is commonly referred to as "the gout" in many areas, including areas which don't stick a "the" in front of other diseases.
  • When things that are famous throughout the world are named in untranslated Spanish, the Spanish article el/la is made part of the name by mistake; thus what ought to be "the Niño current" is known as "the El Niño current" despite being known in Spanish as la corriente del Niño.
  • Actor/Comedian The Greg Wilson, known for bit parts in Ugly Betty, Modern Family, Bones, and The Hottie & the Nottie. Following the furore caused by his being caught plagiarizing another comedian on America's Got Talent, however, he's largely dropped that moniker in favor of just Greg Wilson, or Greg Romero Wilson.
  • Partisan leaders in the Peninsular War were frequently known by titles beginning "El", such as "El Empecinado" (The Undaunted) and "El Médico" (The Doctor... probably not that one).
  • A number of brands of Scotch whisky include the "The" at the beginning of the name, and insist that you say it. The most popular is The Macallan—not "Macallan", "The Macallan." Other brands that do this include The Glenlivet and The Balvenie.
  • The Dalles, Oregon; The Woodlands, Texas.
  • La Center, Washington, a rare example of an English word city name with a Spanish definite article. ("La" can also be a French definite article.)
    • La Conner, Washington appears to use this trope, but the "La" is actually in honor of Louisa Ann Conner, an early settler.
  • Any Spanish-word city name that starts with any of the four definite articles:
    • El: masculine singular, as in El Cerrito ('the Little Hill') in the San Francisco Bay Area, El Camino Real ('the Royal Road') throughout California, El Centro in southeastern California, El Paso ('the Pass') in Texas (although the pass in question is actually across the Rio Grande in Ciudad Juarez).
    • Los: masculine plural, as in Los Angeles ('the Angels', truncated from a long name containing de la Reina de los Ángeles = of the Queen of the Angels) in SoCal and Los Baños ('the Baths', after a creek used for bathing) in the San Joaquin Valley.
      • Los Lunas, New Mexico is named for the Luna family, not the celestial object, hence the masculine form.
    • La: feminine singular, as in La Jolla (properly la Joya, 'the jewel'), a neighborhood in San Diego, California.
      • The Spanish name for Havana is La Habana, but "Habana" was already the Taino language name for the native settlement in that location, so the Spanish form basically amounts to "The Havana".
    • Las: feminine plural, as in Las Vegas ('the Plains'), Nevada, and Las Cruces ('the Crosses'), New Mexico.
    • Similar things occur in other languages too, for instance in French you have "la France", "Le Havre", "Le Mans", "les Halles" and "les Gobelins" (neighborhoods in Paris), "les Pays-Bas" (the Netherlands) and "les Cornouailles" (Cornwall). Note that these articles are treated like normal articles, so "I come from Le Havre" is "Je viens du Havre".
      • Speaking of les Pays-Bas, in Dutch you also find a number of persons and places which feature definite articles, such as "De" (e.g. in the surname De Jong) or "Het" (as in the palace Het Loo), the latter occasionally shortened to "'t". Sometimes the article will be inflected in ways that have fallen from use outside the field of name, e.g. to "Den" as in Den Haag (The Hague) or Den Bosch. Occasionally you even see the article as a genitive, reduced to a little "'s", as in the full names of the last two cities, 's Gravenhage ("the Count's Wood", implying either a hedge or an enclosed land preserve) and 's Hertogenbosch ("the Duke's Forest").
  • Speaking of Den Bosch, Hieronymus Bosch (whose surname derives from the city) is known in Spanish as "El Bosco", which is a Spanish translation of "Den Bosch" or "The Forest".
  • Holders of UK peerage titles are strictly The Lord Loveaduck or The Lady Day, to distinguish them from non-peers who might have those titles; e.g. the younger sons of a Marquis (Lord Sebastian Flyte) or the wife of a Knight (Lady Flashman).
    • Courtesy peerages formally don't get the article. The eldest son of His Grace the Duke of Norfolk is Earl of Surrey — not the Earl of Surrey, that's really his dad. The distinction is not scrupulously observed. He'd normally be called Lord Surrey anyway.
  • The Manolo is the big fan of the definite article. (Also the shoes.)
  • Clothing retailer Gap used to be "The Gap", but officially dropped "The" in 1986.
  • The chief of a Scots clan will usually refer to himself or herself in this way: the chief of Clan Cameron, for instance, is "the Cameron" (or, more formally, "the Cameron of Lochiel", Lochiel being the Camerons' ancestral home). If a chieftainship descends to someone who doesn't have the clan name as their surname — say, to the child of a woman who married outside the clan — the new chief is expected to change his or her surname to match.
  • Similarly, the eldest male in an Irish family will sometimes be called "The X". So the patriarch of a family called Egan might be called "The Egan."
  • Presumably to show its specialness in relation to the other planets, Earth is often called The Earth, whereas you rarely if ever hear a native English speaker use the phrase "The Mars". Similarly, The Sun and The Moon — to distinguish them from every other sun and moon out there.
    • To quote Alan Davies on QI: "But it has got one moon! It's called the Moon!"
  • George W. Bush inspired mockery when he claimed to use "the Google." Which his father followed up on by referring to 24-Hour News Networks as "the cables."
  • Before Toronto's multipurpose indoor stadium was renamed Rogers Centre, its management inverted this trope by insisting that you not call the building "The SkyDome". You were to refer to it as "SkyDome". One hopes Bret Hart (above) never mentioned SkyDomenote  back in the day.
  • A similar inversion applies to the London art gallery known to almost everyone as "The Tate Gallery". In 2000 it was renamed "Tate Britain", to distinguish it from the new "Tate Modern", and they had a campaign to encourage taxi drivers to correct anyone who asked to go to "the Tate".
  • One of the five boroughs of New York City, The Bronx (although to the United States Postal Service, it is "Bronx NY 104xx," and the county of New York State with which it is coextensive is called Bronx County).
  • A common Verbal Tic in northeastern France is to refer to people as "the [name]". It pretty much marks the speaker as a backwoods hick.
    • Passed into the New World with the La Bolduc example above.
  • On the West Coast of the US, it is not uncommon for people to precede highway numbers with "The", e.g. "The 405" instead of just "405". This practice is especially popular in Southern California.
    • One reason for this is that L.A. has an unusually high number of similar numbers, so something like "take the 10 to the 110 to the 101" works but without the "the"s it would sound like the direction-giver was speaking binary.
  • Both exemplified and inverted by the Christian Science Church, officially the "Church of Christ, Scientist". The main church of the movement in Boston, often called by Christian Scientists "The Mother Church", is officially The First Church of Christ, Scientist. According to the movement's governing document, all other churches in the movement—which are legally branches of The Mother Church—are specifically prohibited from using "The" in front of their names.
  • Inverted by The Home Depot. In Quebec, they omit "The" from their name so that it can be more cross-compatible with Québécois French.
  • Most people insert "the" in front of ship names, thus we have the Enterprise or the Intrepid. However, at least in the west, a ship name is supposed to be referred to as if it were a person's. Therefore it's actually grammatically correct to avert this trope (see the Firefly example above).
    • An exception are the two American destroyers, USS The Sullivans (DD-537 which fought during World War II, and the later DDG-68), in which the name actually is spelled with a "the" (the ships are named for the five Sullivan brothers killed during the sinking of USS Juneau).
  • It is always "the NACA", with each letter pronounced individually instead of "na-ka". However, it is never "the NASA", nor should the letters be pronounced individually. Unless the speaker is European, in which case all language formalities go out the window.
  • "Shit" and "the shit" are two completely different slang terms, the former being negative and the latter being positive,note  as explained here:
    His new car is the shit. / His car is excellent.
    His new car is shit. / His new car is not desirable.
  • In order to be licensed to drive a black cab in London, one must demonstrate mastery of "The Knowledge". Cited as quite possibly the most difficult exam in the world, The Knowledge involves memorizing 320 routes, 25,000 streets, and thousands of points of interests (squares, monuments, clubs, hospitals, embassies, churches, restaurants, and more) in central London, made all the more difficult by London's decided lack of a grid layout.
  • Convenience stores are often referred to this way ("the 7-Eleven", "the Circle K", etc.).
  • "The Popular" was a defunct department store chain in El Paso, Texas. Spanish-speaking people even referred to it as "El Popular".
    • The defunct West Coast department store chain The Broadway.
    • Canadian department store chain Hudson's Bay is usually called "the Bay", and for a long time was officially branded that way. Its website is still "thebay.com".
  • The Cartoon Network stopped using the "The" on-air in by the end of 1995. It's still used in their legal name, however.
  • Many Mexican apodos start with “El” or “La”.
  • Very common with newspapers: The Times, The New York Times, The Cornell Daily Sun, La Prensa, etc. The New York newspaper commonly known as the "Daily News" is officially The News. Also note periodicals like The Saturday Evening Post.
    • Billboard magazine was called The Billboard until 1961.
  • When the FBI first started waging a public battle against The Mafia, they picked up on how its members called it Cosa Nostra ("our thing"), but the FBI would call it La Cosa Nostra, even though it's very bad Italian grammar (The "Our Thing"). This is perhaps because of the word order of Italian, which inverts the object and adjective compared to English (Cosa Nostra = Thing Our), often making people interpret "La Costa Nostra" as meaning "the thing of ours."
  • Disney these days is often called "The Mouse", overtly shouting out to one of its old and famous characters. One might think of other characteristics of a mouse as well, such as its small size and timid, frightened behaviour.


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