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Kathryn Burlingham wrote a few days ago:

I'm thinking "withe" should be a recognized contraction [of "with the"]. Happens to me all the time. 

adding, in mail yesterday:

I can tell you it isn't just a typing phenomenon. I find it in my handwritten things all the time.

This is a type of error in writing/typing known as telescoping: a sequence of two words with some common material at their juncture (TH in this case) is produced as a single word with only one instance of the shared material. (There are more complex cases of telescoping, but this type is especially easy to understand.) And the error is indeed frequent. Searching on "withe" gets over a million raw hits, but most of them are irrelevant. Still, there are plenty of telescoped examples in there.

Among the irrelevancies, there's the noun withe 'withy, twig used for binding things together' and the related verb withe 'to bind with a withe'. Then there's Withe in names: the English footballer Peter Withe, the Tennessee town Hickory Withe. Plus a surprising number of occurrences of withe as a typo for white (as in "black and withe"). And an even larger number that are probably just spellings of with (perhaps in recognition of voicing on the final fricative).

It's not always clear whether we're looking at telescoped withe or at withe for with, especially since the definite article is often omitted in "headline style". Examples like

Re: networking problems withe Linksys router (link)

could go either way. Some examples, however, are clearly withe for plain with:

Leslie Roberts withe George Smitherman (link)

Bug #12084, Update temporary tables withe respect to foreign keys. (link)

Problem withe the antivirus (link)

For a little while I was stumped as to how to hack through this jungle of irrelevancies, but eventually it occurred to me to search on {"with the"} for expressions in which the definite article is required, then search on these expressions with "withe" instead of "with the". Bingo!

yet what can one do but to go withe flow of things… (link)

Re: Shannon Elizabet on Dancing withe Stars … (link)

The hostess withe mostest, in action… (link)

Books, Gone Withe Wind, … (link)

It's like they are so consumed with keeping up withe Joneses that ESPN is obsessing over what NFL Network is covering, … (link)

Get withe program – basketball is rough sport. (link)

I have no problem withe people of China, I have a huge issue with the governement of China, … (link)


yeah as the mafia says "he'll be sleeping withe fishes, don bonjellio"… (link)

Blind people can read withe help of which system? (link)

Now these things are starting to look normal to me.

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