[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

Dictionary.com Unabridged


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

before 900; Middle English; Old English hræth, hræd quick, active; cognate with Dutch rad, Old Norse hrathr

rathely, adverb
ratheness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rathe or rath (reɪð, rɑːθ)
1.  blossoming or ripening early in the season
2.  eager or prompt
[Old English hrathe; related to Old High German hrado, Old Norse hrathr]
rath or rath
[Old English hrathe; related to Old High German hrado, Old Norse hrathr]

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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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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


see had rather.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
The new cabinet is now expected to consist mainly of technical experts rather
  than politicians.
However, many of my friends have found rather high-paying positions at
  market-research firms.
Politicians should concentrate on maximising the mental health of their voters,
  rather than the size of their pay cheques.
Yet teens gravitate toward peers for another, more powerful reason: to invest
  in the future rather than the past.
Idioms & Phrases
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