An example of rather used as an adverb is wanting to live on the west coast rather than on the east coast.
- Obs. more quickly; sooner
- more willingly; preferably: would you rather have tea?
- with more justice, logic, reason, etc.: one might rather say
- more accurately; more precisely: his sister, or rather, stepsister
- on the contrary; quite conversely: not a help, rather a hindrance
- somewhat; to some degree: rather hungry
Origin of ratherMiddle English from Old English hrathor, comparative of hrathe, hræthe, quickly: see rathe
- would choose to
- would prefer that
- More readily; preferably: I'd rather go to the movies.
- More exactly; more accurately: He's my friend, or rather he was my friend.
- To a certain extent; somewhat: It's rather cold out. I was rather hoping you'd call.
- On the contrary: This is not a thoughtful criticism. Rather it is an insult.
- Chiefly British Most certainly. Used as an emphatic affirmative reply.
Origin of ratherMiddle English from Old English hrathor comparative of hræthe quickly, soon from hræth quick
Usage Note: In expressions of preference rather is commonly preceded by would: We would rather rent the house than buy it outright. In formal style, should is sometimes used, though this can sound pretentious in American English: I should rather go with you than stay home. Sometimes had appears in these constructions, although this use of had seems to be growing less frequent: I had rather work with Williams than work for him. This usage was once widely criticized as a mistake, but the criticism resulted from a misanalysis of the contraction in sentences such as I'd rather stay. The 'd here is a survival of the subjunctive form had that appears in constructions like had better and had best, as in We had better leave now. This use of had goes back to Middle English and is perfectly acceptable. • Before an unmodified noun only rather a is used: It was rather a disaster. When the noun is preceded by an adjective, however, both rather a and a rather are found: It was rather a boring party. It was a rather boring party. Rather a is more typical of British English than American English. When a rather is used in this construction, rather qualifies only the adjective, whereas with rather a it qualifies either the adjective or the entire noun phrase. Thus a rather long ordeal can mean only “an ordeal that is rather long,” whereas rather a long ordeal can also mean roughly “a long process that is something of an ordeal.” Rather a is the only possible choice when the adjective itself does not permit modification: The horse was rather a long shot (not The horse was a rather long shot ).
- Used to specify a choice or preference; preferably. [from 9th c.]
- 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.
- (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.
- (conjunctive) Introducing a qualification or clarification; more precisely. (Now usually preceded by or.) [from 15th c.]
- I didn't want to leave. Or rather I did, just not alone.
- (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.
- (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).
(third-person singular simple present rathers, present participle rathering, simple past and past participle rathered)
- (nonstandard or dialectal) To prefer; to prefer to.
- (obsolete) Prior; earlier; former.