In a blog article posted by Joel Spolsky, there is a sentence saying "Ye Olde Timers got Ye Olde Tired of this." I don't know what the meaning is. I've checked the definition of "Ye olde" in wiki, but still couldn't understand. English is not my native language; can anyone explain the meaning to me?


2 Answers 2


"Ye Olde" is a humorous way of making something look "ancient" when it really is not. The word "Ye" is actually a scribal abbreviation for the word "The", presumably because it is faster / more efficient to write "Ye" by hand rather than "The", especially since any text will have many instances of the common word "the".

Many other words are give a final silent "e"in an attempt to make them appear to be spelled "in the old way" ("ye olde waye").

Sometimes the final consonant before the appended silent e is doubled for greater effect. ("ye olde wayye")

The humor derives from using so-called "ancient-looking" spellings for modern words or ideas.

By using "Ye Olde..." in his blog post, Joel Spolsky is signaling the topic is very old, ancient in time span of computer users.

EDIT: Joel's blog post is bemoaning newbies asking questions that have been answered many times before

Have you ever noticed how certain questions come up again and again on Stack Overflow sites?

This irritates people who have repeatedly been answering those questions for a long time i.e. "Ye Olde Timers".

  • Thanks John, your explanation is very clear. I understand it now. :)
    – Landy
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 15:01
  • 10
    The "Y" in "Ye olde", as used in such a scribal abbreviation, is actually a capital "thorn": Þ which looks like a Y, especially in certain mediaeval-style scripts.
    – psmears
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 17:29

Ye olde is an expression that means an era that has passed, but with a pseudo-old-english language. The word ye is not actually an old english word, but a misreading of the actual middle english þe (the), which looks similar to ye in handwriting.

An old-timer is an expression for a veteran or elderly people. "Ye olde tired" is just a wordplay on the expression in the beginning of the sentence.

So, it means "The veterans got tired of this", expressed with a tone of old times, and a bit of humor.

  • The thorn character þ, died out over the middle ages, but hung around in the, as you mention, but the thorn was substituted with Y, due to the script of the time making the two similar and eventually the Y use was ubiquitous.
    – Orbling
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 15:04
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    Actually, it was not a misreading but a deliberate substitution of the y for the thorn character because the typographers didn't have the thorn in their font sets and that was the closest thing. A similar substitution occurred with use of the f for the script s in the late 18th century.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 15:14
  • @Robusto: This says that it was a misreading: thefreedictionary.com/ye
    – Guffa
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 16:03
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    @Guffa: The article you quite says it was not a misreading: " When printing presses were first set up in England in the 1470s, the type and the typesetters all came from Continental Europe, where this letter was not in use. The letter y was used instead because in the handwriting of the day the thorn was very similar to y. Thus we see such spellings as ye for the ... well into the 19th century." Which was my point.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 18:00
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    @Guffa: They mean the misreading is on the part of the present-day users of the y. The origin of the usage of y was not a misreading, but a conscious choice.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 20:24

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