Why was clemency trending last week?


[adv. rath -er, rah-th er; interj. rath -ur, rah-th ur] /adv. ˈræð ər, ˈrɑ ðər; interj. ˈræðˈɜr, ˈrɑˈðɜr/
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.
Origin of rather
before 900; Middle English; Old English hrathor, comparative of hræth quick, rathe


[reyth] /reɪð/
Archaic. growing, blooming, or ripening early in the year or season.
Also, rath
[rath] /ræθ/ (Show IPA)
before 900; Middle English; Old English hræth, hræd quick, active; cognate with Dutch rad, Old Norse hrathr
Related forms
rathely, adverb
ratheness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for rather
  • 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.
  • We nuke prepared dishes rather than growing our own food and machine-wash ready-made clothes rather than sewing and scrubbing.
  • He acted as if he were someone running the meeting, they said, rather than as an invited guest.
  • They often hold multiple positions at the same time, and their job transitions are dovetailed rather than clear changes.
  • They also found that the fault must have ruptured all at once, rather than in smaller segments.
  • They wanted their employees to enter the amounts in the machine, rather than doing totals in their heads.
  • Some kinds of corn are grown for the beauty of their shelled ears rather than for eating.
British Dictionary definitions for rather


adverb (in senses 1-4, not used with a negative)
relatively or fairly; somewhat: it's rather dull
to a significant or noticeable extent; quite: she's rather pretty
to a limited extent or degree: I rather thought that was the case
with better or more just cause: this text is rather to be deleted than rewritten
more readily or willingly; sooner: I would rather not see you tomorrow
sentence connector
on the contrary: it's not cold. Rather, it's very hot indeed
sentence substitute (ˈrɑːˈðɜː)
an expression of strong affirmation, often in answer to a question: Is it worth seeing? Rather!
Usage note
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
Word Origin
Old English hrathor comparative of hræthready, quick; related to Old Norse hrathr


adjective (archaic or literary)
blossoming or ripening early in the season
eager or prompt
Word Origin
Old English hrathe; related to Old High German hrado, Old Norse hrathr
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for rather

Old English hraþor "more quickly, earlier, sooner," also "more readily," comparative of hraþe, hræþe "quickly, hastily, promptly, readily, immediately," which is related to hræð "quick, nimble, prompt, ready," from Proto-Germanic *khratha- (cf. Old Norse hraðr, Old High German hrad), from PIE *kret- "to shake." The base form rathe was obsolete by 18c. except in poetry (Tennyson); superlative rathest fell from use by 17c. Meaning "more willingly" is recorded from c.1300; sense of "more truly" is attested from late 14c.

The rather lambes bene starved with cold
[Spenser, "The Shepheardes Calender" (Februarie), 1579]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with rather


see: had rather
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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