Dec 13, 2013

The ‘thorn’, or þ, is an Old English letter representing a “th” sound, and was once commonly paired with a superscript e as an abbreviation for ‘the’ to yield ‘þe’. [...] ‘Ye’, commonly used as an anachronistic form of ‘the’ (“Ye Olde Tea Shoppe” is the canonical example), exists only because the cases of blackletter type that early English printers brought over from the continent lacked the Old English þ. Printers turned to the y, its nearest visual equivalent, and the thorn's fate was sealed.