Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

they - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

pronoun     they pronunciation in British English
They is used as the subject of a verb: They killed him.
In formal English they can also be used after the verb ‘to be’, especially before a relative clause: It is they who are telling lies.
  1. 1
    used for referring to a group of people or things that have already been mentioned or that are already known about

    I phoned her parents because I knew they were worried.

    It’s hard to choose. They’re all very nice.

    Synonyms and related words
  2. 2
    used instead of ‘he or she’, especially when you are referring back to a word such as ‘everyone’, ‘someone’, or ‘anyone’

    We should give everyone a chance to say what they think.

    Synonyms and related words
  3. 3
    used for referring to people in general
    they say/call/think etc:

    They used to call her ‘the Iron Lady’.

    Synonyms and related words
  4. 4
    used for referring to a government, an organization, or a group of people in authority

    They’re going to ban smoking in public places.

    Synonyms and related words
See also


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play