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Webster 1913 Edition


Rather

Rath′er

(răth′ẽr)
,
Adj.
[Compar. of
Rath
,
Adj.
]
Prior; earlier; former.
[Obs.]
Now no man dwelleth at the
rather
town.
Sir J. Mandeville.

Rath′er

(răth′ẽr; 277)
,
adv.
[AS.
hraðor
, compar. of
hraðe
,
hræðe
, quickly, immediately. See
Rath
,
Adj.
]
1.
Earlier; sooner; before.
[Obs.]
Thou shalt, quod he, be
rather
false than I.
Chaucer.
A good mean to come the
rather
to grace.
Foxe.
2.
More readily or willingly; preferably.
My soul chooseth . . . death
rather
than my life.
Job vii. 15.
3.
On the other hand; to the contrary of what was said or suggested; instead.
Was nothing bettered, but
rather
grew worse.
Mark v. 26.
4.
Of two alternatives conceived of, this by preference to, or as more likely than, the other; somewhat.
He sought throughout the world, but sought in vain,
And nowhere finding,
rather
feared her slain.
Dryden.
5.
More properly; more correctly speaking.
This is an art
Which does mend nature, change it
rather
, but
The art itself is nature.
Shakespeare
6.
In some degree; somewhat;
as, the day is
rather
warm; the house is
rather
damp.
The rather
,
the more so; especially; for better reason; for particular cause.

You are come to me in happy time,
The rather
for I have some sport in hand.
Shakespeare
Had rather
, or
Would rather
,
prefer to; prefers to;
as, he
had rather
, or
would rather
go than stay
.
“I had rather speak five words with my understanding than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”
1 Cor. xiv. 19.
See
Had rather
, under
Had
.

Webster 1828 Edition


Rather

RATH'ER

,
adv.
[I would rather go, or sooner go. The use is taken from pushing or moving forward.] [L. ante, before.] But he said, yea rather, happy are they that hear the word of God and keep it. Luke 11.]
1.
More readily or willingly; with better liking; with preference or choice.
My soul chooseth strangling and death rather than life. Job. 7.
Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John 3. Ps. 84.
2.
In preference; preferably; with better reason. Good is rather to be chosen than evil. See acts 5.
3.
In a greater degree than otherwise.
He sought throughout the world, but sought in vain, and no where finding, rather fear'd her slain.
4.
More properly; more correctly speaking.
This is an art which does mend nature, change it rather; but the art itself is nature.
5.
Noting some degree of contrariety in fact.
She was nothing better, but rather grew worse. Mark 5.
Matt. 27.
The rather, especially; for better reason; for particular cause.
You are come to me in a happy time, the rather for I have some sport in hand.
Had rather, is supposed to be a corruption of would rather.
I had rather speak five words with my understanding -
1Cor. 14.
This phrase may have been originally, 'I'd rather,' for I would rather, and the contraction afterwards mistaken for had. Correct speakers and writers generally use would in all such phrases; I would rather, I prefer; I desire in preference.

Definition 2022


rather

rather

See also: raþer

English

Adverb

rather (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) More quickly; sooner, earlier. [9th-19th c.]
  2. Used to specify a choice or preference; preferably. (Always with would - normally contracted to 'd). (Now usually followed by than) [from 9th c.]
    • 1992, Rudolf M. Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, page vii
      Firstly, I continue to base most species treatments on personally collected material, rather than on herbarium plants.
    I'd rather stay in all day than go out with them.   I'd like this one rather than the other one.   I'd rather be with you.
  3. (conjunctive) Used to introduce a contradiction; on the contrary. [from 14th c.]
    It wasn't supposed to be popular; rather, it was supposed to get the job done.   She didn't go along, but rather went home instead.
  4. (conjunctive) Introducing a qualification or clarification; more precisely. (Now usually preceded by or.) [from 15th c.]
    • 1897, Henry James, What Maisie Knew:
      What the pupil already knew was indeed rather taken for granted than expressed, but it performed the useful function of transcending all textbooks and supplanting all studies.
    • 1898, J. A. Hamilton, "Stanley, Edward George Geoffrey Smith", in Sidney Lee (Ed.), Dictionary of National Biography, Volume LIV: Stanhope–Stovin, The MacMillan Company, page 60,
      His ‘Iliad’ is spirited and polished, and, though often rather a paraphrase than a translation, is always more truly poetic than most of the best translations.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 12, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      All this was extraordinarily distasteful to Churchill. [] Never before had he felt such repulsion when the vicar displayed his characteristic bluntness or coarseness of speech. In the present connexionor rather as a transition from the subject that started their conversationsuch talk had been distressingly out of place.
    I didn't want to leave. Or rather I did, just not alone.
  5. (degree) Somewhat, fairly. [from 16th c.]
    This melon is rather tasteless.   This melon is rather tasteless, especially compared to the one we had last time.

Usage notes

  • (somewhat): This is a non-descriptive qualifier, similar to quite and fairly and somewhat. It is used where a plain adjective needs to be modified, but cannot be qualified. When spoken, the meaning can vary with the tone of voice and stress. "He was rather big" can mean anything from "not small" to "huge" (meiosis with the stress on rather).
  • (preference): When expressing preference, the expression is always would rather, usually contracted to 'd rather.

Synonyms

Antonyms

Translations

Verb

rather (third-person singular simple present rathers, present participle rathering, simple past and past participle rathered)

  1. (nonstandard or dialectal) To prefer; to prefer to.
    • 1984, Bruce Brooks, The Moves Make the Man:
      Until just before the pie was popped into the heat. A few of them suddenly realized who put that gorgeous hunk of crackers together, and gaped. We grinned back, but very cool. The ones who knew said nothing, rathering to die than let on they had been hustled by two negative dudes.
    • 2002, Sarah Waters, Fingersmith:
      It was a plain brown dress, more or less the colour of my hair; and the walls of our kitchen being also brown, when I came downstairs again I could hardly be seen. I should have rathered a blue gown, or a violet one []
    • 2002, Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day:
      So you must excuse my saying anything I did: all it was, that up to the very last I had understood us all to be friendly — apart, that is, from his rathering me not there. How was I to know he would flash out so wicked?
    • 2007, Mikel Schaefer, Lost in Katrina, page 323:
      "That was a killer," said Chris. "I'd rathered die in St. Bernard than spent one minute over there. I would have rathered the storm, shaking with the wind and rain hitting in the boat for an eternity than spending any time there.

Adjective

rather (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) Prior; earlier; former.
    • Sir J. Mandeville
      Now no man dwelleth at the rather town.

Interjection

rather

  1. (England, dated) An enthusiastic affirmation.
    • 1919, P. G. Wodehouse, My Man Jeeves
      "Do you mean to say, young man," she said frostily, "that you expect me to drink this stuff?"
      "Rather! Bucks you up, you know."
    • 1967, Peter Pook, Banker Pook Confesses:
      "Some of us stupid old die-hards believe that there is yet room for pride in one's work, Pook," Mr Pants said with dangerous emphasis.
      "Oh, rather, sir. I'd much sooner walk to London Town than ride in one of those motorcars we've heard tell of, sir."

Statistics

Most common English words before 1923: turned · taken · end · #241: rather · until · does · Gutenberg