Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adverb More readily; preferably.
  • adverb More exactly; more accurately.
  • adverb To a certain extent; somewhat.
  • adverb On the contrary.
  • adverb Chiefly British Most certainly. Used as an emphatic affirmative reply.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • More quickly; quicker. See rath, adverb, 1.
  • Earlier; sooner.
  • More readily or willingly; with better liking; with preference or choice; in preference, as compared with something else.
  • In preference; preferably; with better reason; better.
  • More properly; more correctly speaking; more.
  • On the contrary; to the contrary of what has been just stated.
  • In a greater degree; much; considerably; also, in colloquial use, in some degree; somewhat: qualifying a verb.
  • In some degree or measure; somewhat; moderately: usually qualifying an adverb or an adjective: as, she is rather pretty.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective obsolete Prior; earlier; former.
  • adverb obsolete Earlier; sooner; before.
  • adverb More readily or willingly; preferably.
  • adverb On the other hand; to the contrary of what was said or suggested; instead.
  • adverb Of two alternatives conceived of, this by preference to, or as more likely than, the other; somewhat.
  • adverb More properly; more correctly speaking.
  • adverb In some degree; somewhat
  • adverb the more so; especially; for better reason; for particular cause.
  • adverb prefer to; prefers to.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To prefer; to prefer to.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adverb more readily or willingly
  • adverb to a degree (not used with a negative)
  • adverb on the contrary
  • adverb to some (great or small) extent

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English hrathor, comparative of hræthe, quickly, soon, from hræth, quick.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English rather, rether, from Old English hraþor ("sooner, earlier, more quickly"), comparative of hraþe ("hastily, quickly, promptly, readily, immediately, soon, at once, directly"), equivalent to rathe +‎ -er. More at rathe.

Examples

    Sorry, no example sentences found.

Comments

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  • Rather, used as an afirmative or modifier, is annoying, e.g., "I rather enjoyed the performance."

    December 2, 2006

  • Rather: the only way I know to say "a lot" and make it sound like "sort of".

    December 29, 2006

  • i rather be at the mall

    February 15, 2007

  • i would rataher have you do thea

    February 15, 2007

  • I should have rathered a blue gown, or a violet one; but Gentleman said it was the perfect dress for a sneak or for a servant

    —Sarah Waters, Fingersmith

    I'd never seen this verbal use before, and assumed Waters had researched authentic Victorian colloquialism. However, web search shows it quite common today too, with much the same argument structures as 'prefer'.

    February 23, 2009