Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Archaic The.
  • pro. Archaic You.
  • pro. Archaic You.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • the
  • pro. you (the people being addressed).
  • v. Address a single person by the use of the pronoun ye instead of thou.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • an old method of printing the article the (AS. þe), the “y” being used in place of the Anglo-Saxon thorn (þ). It is sometimes incorrectly pronounced yē. See the, and thorn, n., 4.
  • adv. Yea; yes.
  • n. An eye.
  • pro. The plural of the pronoun of the second person in the nominative case.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • The personal pronoun of the second person, in the plural number: now commonly applied also (originally with some notion of distinction or compliment, as in the case of the royal we) to a single individual, in place of the singular forms thee and thou—a use resulting in the partial degradation of thou to a term of familiarity or of contempt. Ye is archaic, and little used except in exalted address and poetry.
  • As used without discrimination of case-form between nominative and objective.
  • As used for a single subject.
  • A Middle English form of yea.
  • n. An obsolete variant of eye.

Etymologies

Misreading of ye, from Middle English þe, spelling of the, the (using the letter thorn).
Middle English, from Old English ; see yu- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English ye, ȝe, from Old English ġē ("ye"), the nominative case of the second-person plural personal pronoun, from Proto-Germanic *jūz (“ye”), from Proto-Indo-European *yūs (“ye”). Cognate with Scots ye ("ye"), Dutch gij, jij, je ("ye"), Low German ji, jie ("ye"), German ihr ("ye"), Danish and Swedish I ("ye"), Icelandic ér ("ye"). See also you. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English þe. The letter y is a variant of þ ("thorn"), a letter which corresponds to modern th, but letter þ did not exist in first press typographies, so was replaced using either "th" or "y". Etymological y was for a time distinguished by a dot, , but the letters were conflated when that was dropped. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • IrE: you (plural). AmE dialects have: y'all, yiz, youse, you guys -- but there's no exact non-dialect equivalent.

    April 19, 2011

  • In Cork, Ireland, the word "ye" is in common use as the plural of "you." Although it's recognised as not belonging to standard modern English, it is entirely normal to use it in conversation and, in fact, if the word "you" is used as a plural it may cause momentary confusion. I have seen the written form of the word in hand-written notes, letters etc but never in print. I believe this usage may be found in most/all parts of the country but may be less common in other areas.

    August 10, 2009

  • True, uselessness. "Archaic The. Misreading of ye, from Middle English þe, spelling of the, (using the letter thorn)."

    Also of "you": "Archaic, used nominatively as the plural of thou, esp. in rhetorical, didactic, or poetic contexts, in addressing a group of persons or things): O ye of little faith; ye brooks and hills." And... "Used nominatively for the second person singular, esp. in polite address: Do ye not know me?"

    Interesting little word, ye. :-)

    November 13, 2007

  • That's pretty wild. Source?

    November 13, 2007

  • This is (was?) actually pronounced 'the'.

    November 10, 2007