Definition of


  1. (adv, all) on the contrary
    he didn't call; rather (or instead), he wrote her a letter
    used English terms instead of Latin ones
  2. (adv, all) to some (great or small) extent
    the party was rather nice
    the knife is rather dull
    I rather regret that I cannot attend
    He's rather good at playing the cello
    he is kind of shy
  3. (adv, all) more readily or willingly
    I'd rather be in Philadelphia
    I'd sooner die than give up
  4. (adv, all) to a degree (not used with a negative)
    quite soon
    quite ill
    quite rich

via WordNet, Princeton University

Origin of the word Rather

  1. O.E. hra?or "more quickly, earlier, sooner," also "more readily," comparative of hra?e, hr??e "quickly," related to hr?? "quick," from P.Gmc. *khrathuz (cf. O.N. hra?r, 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 fro… more

via Online Etymology Dictionary, ©2001 Douglas Harper

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