I was just having this conversation with a friend. Where does the word "the" come from?
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Let me introduce you to the wonderful site that is Etymonline:
See also my comment on this related question: How are sentences like “the longer X, the more Y” called and can they be used in formal written English?
The and that are common developments from the Old English system. Old English had a definite article se, in the masculine gender, seo (feminine), and þæt (neuter). In Middle English these had all merged into þe, the ancestor of the Modern English word the.