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Just me or does anyone else only picture The New York Times when you hear "The Times"? Is that just me? Or just an American thing?

Don't feel bad, it's a regional thing. In San Francisco, if someone says "The Times" I also assume NYT. But, for example, folks nearer LA, think the LA Times. A lab mate and I joked about making a visualization along these lines (and the more common "Which city is 'The City'?").

Now I'm curious if the Seattle Times is a big enough deal to supplant NYT (presumably yes)...

Not really. Been out here 10 years and "The Times" tends to refer to NYT. Seattle Times is referred to in full generally; the only other competing paper (now dead) was referred to as the PI (post intelligencer). At least in the circles I ran in, which was mostly finance/tech.

It's not just you, and probably not even just an American thing. I personally think of the The Times when I see "The Times", but I'm British, like the author of this Medium article.

I know why it happens, but it's somewhat ironic that The Times is given a made-up regional-sounding name (The London Times or Times of London) to differentiate it from shorthand versions of region-specific titles that are, directly or indirectly, inspired by The Times.

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