rather

[adverb rath-er, rah-th er; interjection rath-ur, rah-th ur]

adverb

interjection

Chiefly British. emphatically yes; assuredly; without doubt: Is the book worth reading?Rather!

Idioms

    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

rathe

[reyth]

adjective

Archaic. growing, blooming, or ripening early in the year or season.
Also rath [rath] /ræθ/.

Origin of rathe

before 900; Middle English; Old English hræth, hræd quick, active; cognate with Dutch rad, Old Norse hrathr
Related formsrathe·ly, adverbrathe·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


Examples from the Web for rather

Contemporary Examples of rather

Historical Examples of rather

  • Rather gain one prize from the Choragus than ten from the Gymnasiarch.

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • "He said he was poor," urged Billy, who had been rather taken with the ease of Arledge's manner.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Had you rather witness the sports of the gymnasia than the works of artists?

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • Mrs. Rushton was sitting at her work, in rather a disconsolate frame of mind.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • “I had rather study than thrive,” said Ambrose rather dreamily.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge


British Dictionary definitions for rather

rather

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

sentence connector

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

usage

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

rathe

rath (rɑːθ)

adjective archaic, or literary

blossoming or ripening early in the season
eager or prompt

Word Origin for rathe

Old English hrathe; related to Old High German hrado, Old Norse hrathr
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

Word Origin and History for rather
adv.

Old English hraþor "more quickly, earlier, sooner," also "more readily," comparative of hraþe, hræþe "quickly, hastily, promptly, readily, immediately," which is related to hræð "quick, nimble, prompt, ready," from Proto-Germanic *khratha- (cf. Old Norse hraðr, Old High German hrad), from PIE *kret- "to shake." The base form rathe was obsolete by 18c. except in poetry (Tennyson); superlative rathest fell from use by 17c. Meaning "more willingly" is recorded from c.1300; sense of "more truly" is attested from late 14c.

The rather lambes bene starved with cold
[Spenser, "The Shepheardes Calender" (Februarie), 1579]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with rather

rather

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.