[ adverb rath -er, rah-th er; interjection rath -ur, rah-th ur ]
/ adverb ˈræð ər, ˈrɑ ðər; interjection ˈræðˈɜr, ˈrɑˈðɜr /
in a measure; to a certain extent; somewhat: rather good.
in some degree: I rather thought you would regret it.
more properly or justly; with better reason: The contrary is rather to be supposed.
sooner; more readily or willingly: to die rather than yield.
more properly or correctly speaking; more truly: He is a painter or, rather, a watercolorist.
on the contrary: It's not generosity, rather self-interest.
rather than, instead of: Tutoring is provided by older students rather than teachers. Rather than complain, you should try to make changes.
Chiefly British. emphatically yes; assuredly; without doubt: Is the book worth reading?Rather!
had/would rather, to prefer that or to: I had much rather we not stay. We would rather go for dinner after the show.Compare soon(def 8).
Origin of rather
before 900; Middle English; Old English hrathor, comparative of hræth quick, rathe
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for had rather
/ (ˈrɑːðə) /
adverb (in senses 1-4, not used with a negative)
relatively or fairly; somewhatit's rather dull
to a significant or noticeable extent; quiteshe's rather pretty
to a limited extent or degreeI rather thought that was the case
with better or more just causethis text is rather to be deleted than rewritten
more readily or willingly; soonerI would rather not see you tomorrow
on the contraryit's not cold. Rather, it's very hot indeed
sentence substitute (ˈrɑːˈðɜː)
an expression of strong affirmation, often in answer to a questionIs it worth seeing? Rather!
Word Origin for rather
Old English hrathor comparative of hræth ready, quick; related to Old Norse hrathr
Both would and had are used with rather in sentences such as I would rather (or had rather) go to the film than to the play. Had rather is less common and is now widely regarded as slightly old-fashioned
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Idioms and Phrases with had rather (1 of 2)
Also, had sooner. Would prefer. For example, I had rather you let me do the driving, or He'd sooner switch than fight. This idiom today is often replaced by would rather. [Late 1500s] Also see just as soon.
Idioms and Phrases with had rather (2 of 2)
see had rather.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.