pronounarchaic, dialectsecond person plural
The history of the use of ye is complex. In the earliest period it was used only as the plural subjective form. In the 13th century it came to be used in the singular, equivalent to thou. In the 15th century, when you had become the dominant subjective form, ye came to be used as an objective singular and plural (equivalent to thee and you). Various uses survive in modern dialects
- ye gods!
An exclamation of astonishment.‘Now, here's the problem: since this is an electronic voice telling me I have this phone call from this prison, I can't tell the electronic voice or the prisoner (ye gods!) that I am not the person they mean to be calling.’‘Rugby World Cup. And ye gods, am I excited! I love World Cups.’
Old English gē, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch gij and German ihr.
Graphic variant; in late Middle English þ (see thorn) came to be written identically with y, so that the could be written ye. This spelling (usually ye) was kept as a convenient abbreviation in handwriting down to the 19th century, and in printers' types during the 15th and 16th centuries. It was never pronounced as ‘ye’ in the past, but this is the pronunciation used today.