Ye Olde

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Anachronistic sign reading "Ye Olde Pizza Parlor"
The term has been in use for a considerable amount of time, as in this 1908 image. Pictured is the First Philadelphia Mint (built 1792, since demolished).

"Ye Olde" is a pseudo-Early Modern English stock prefix, used anachronistically, suggestive of a Merry England or Deep England feel. A typical example would be Ye Olde English Pubbe or similar names of theme pubs.


The anachronistic use of "Ye Olde" dates at least to the early 20th century, as seen in the image at above right (image 1908). The use of the term "ye" to mean "the" is based in Early Modern English, in which the could be written as þe, employing the Old English letter thorn, þ. During the Tudor period, the scribal abbreviation for þe was EME ye.svg (or "þe" with modern symbols); here, the letter <þ> is combined with the letter <e>.[1] Because <þ> and <y> look very nearly identical in medieval English blackletter (as the <þ> in EME ye.svg compared with the <y> in ye), the two have since been mistakenly substituted for each other. The connection became less obvious after the letter thorn was discontinued in favour of the digraph <th> in the English language (resulting from the use of printing presses from France which lacked a way to print thorn). " Ye" has been used in several old writings, including the Magna Carta, written in 1215.

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  1. ^ Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, ye[2] retrieved February 1, 2009

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