rath·​er ˈra-t͟hər How to pronounce rather (audio)
 also  ˈre-;
 interjectionally  ˈra-ˈt͟hər,
: with better reason or more propriety : more properly
this you should pity rather than despise William Shakespeare
: more readily or willingly : preferably
I'd rather not go
would rather read than watch television
often used interjectionally to express affirmation
: more correctly speaking
my father, or rather my stepfather
: to the contrary : instead
was no better but rather grew worse Mark 5:26 (Revised Standard Version)
: in some degree : somewhat
it's rather warm
often used as a mild intensive
spent rather a lot of money
the rather
archaic : the more quickly or readily

Example Sentences

The movie is a comedy, but rather a dull one. I think the children watch rather too much television. It rather annoyed me that he was late picking me up.
Recent Examples on the Web Judd Hirsch, who pops up as Uncle Boris, delivered the showiest material of Kushner’s and Spielberg’s rather blunt explication of the plight of the artist in society. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, 23 Nov. 2022 Ortega kills as the gifted, nihilistic teen who’d rather hang out in a crypt than a club. Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov. 2022 So far this season, in 10 starts, the 6-foot-3, 196-pound McCarthy has been efficient but rather underwhelming on the stat sheet. Nathan Baird, cleveland, 23 Nov. 2022 For a good long while, Bones and All is rather outstanding—an equally seductive and sinister scavenging of genre touchstones. A.a. Dowd, Chron, 23 Nov. 2022 Fresh yeast, with its smooth, waxy complexion, is lovely and nostalgic, but bricks of it are rather uncommon at a local grocery store. Shilpa Uskokovic, Bon Appétit, 22 Nov. 2022 Since season 1, viewers have seen the partners' bond grow — both in and out of conflict — and Stabler may have confessed his love for Benson during a rather inopportune moment back in 2021. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 22 Nov. 2022 The spirit of Christmas can turn rather feisty, according to holiday-movie tradition. Dan Snierson, EW.com, 22 Nov. 2022 Janine would rather die than be subjected to the [ritual raping] ceremony again. Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rather.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English hrathor, comparative of hrathe quickly; akin to Old High German rado quickly, Old English hræd quick

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of rather was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near rather

Cite this Entry

“Rather.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rather. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



rath·​er ˈrat͟h-ər How to pronounce rather (audio)
: more willingly
would rather stay home
: more exactly : more properly
my father, or, rather, my stepfather
: instead
was no better but rather grew worse
: somewhat entry 2
rather cold today

More from Merriam-Webster on rather

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