had rather


[adv. rath-er, rah-ther; interj. rath-ur, rah-thur]
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.

before 900; Middle English; Old English hrathor, comparative of hræth quick, rathe

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World English Dictionary
rather (ˈrɑːðə)
1.  relatively or fairly; somewhat: it's rather dull
2.  to a significant or noticeable extent; quite: she's rather pretty
3.  to a limited extent or degree: I rather thought that was the case
4.  with better or more just cause: this text is rather to be deleted than rewritten
5.  more readily or willingly; sooner: I would rather not see you tomorrow
sentence connector
6.  on the contrary: it's not cold. Rather, it's very hot indeed
sentence substitute
7.  an expression of strong affirmation, often in answer to a question: Is it worth seeing? Rather!
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

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

O.E. hraþor "more quickly, earlier, sooner," also "more readily," comparative of hraþe, hræþe "quickly," related to hræð "quick," from P.Gmc. *khrathuz (cf. O.N. hraðr, O.H.G. hrad). The base form rathe was obsolete by 18c. except in poetry; superlative rathest fell
from use by 17c. Meaning "more willingly" is recorded from c.1300; sense of "more truly" is attested from c.1380.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

had rather

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.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Idioms & Phrases
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