rath·er | \ ˈra-t͟hər , ˈrä- , ˈrə- also ˈre- ; interjectionally ˈra-ˈt͟hər , ˈrä- , ˈrə- \

Definition of rather 

1 : with better reason or more propriety : more properly this you should pity rather than despise —William Shakespeare

2 : more readily or willingly : preferably I'd rather not go would rather read than watch television often used interjectionally to express affirmation

3 : more correctly speaking my father, or rather my stepfather

4 : to the contrary : instead was no better but rather grew worse —Mark 5:26 (Revised Standard Version)

5 : 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for rather


first, preferably, readily, soon, willingly


involuntarily, unwillingly

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of rather in a Sentence

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

With regard to the Johnson & Johnson suit, the trial was not about proving the safety or danger of talc, but rather whether the company had withheld information from consumers about the potential risks. Elizabeth Inglese, Vogue, "Why Johnson & Johnson’s $4.7 Billion Baby Powder Lawsuit Is Important for Women Everywhere," 13 July 2018 The point is not to polish and make what was originally spoken read as if it were written, but rather to make the verbatim transcripts of what was actually said readable in the first place. Adam Fisher, WIRED, "Sex, Beer, and Coding: Inside Facebook’s Wild Early Days," 10 July 2018 And, crucially, the brand is not so much the park but rather the transformation of the old industrial wasteland into the new recreational amenity. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "How Brooklyn Lost Itself," 6 July 2018 James considers them cultural expressions, commissioned and designed without an architect’s touch, but rather in step with the tastes of communities. Cassie Owens, Philly.com, "Philadelphia Latinos connect with Caribbean roots through ornate porch gates," 5 July 2018 In truth, the nativist turn in American politics has not been driven by the public’s concerns about border security, per se, but rather by widespread anxieties about rapid demographic change. Eric Leivtz, Daily Intelligencer, "For Democrats, Immigration Is a Political Problem Without a Policy Solution," 2 July 2018 The most effective recruitment method has not been the placement of traditional fliers tacked to a telephone pole, but rather the lab’s Instagram page. Rebecca Robbins, STAT, "A daredevil researcher’s latest quest: to restore sight lost to glaucoma using virtual reality," 2 July 2018 My personal interest in interstellar travel was piqued not by an astrophysicist, but rather by a moral philosopher. Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, "Is Colonizing Mars the Most Important Project in Human History?," 29 June 2018 The voluntarily underemployed tended to come from families with money, and many did not consider the decision to be a temporary exploratory detour but, rather, a permanent path. Alexia Elejalde-ruiz, The Seattle Times, "Settling for a survival job right out of college can hurt your career for years," 22 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of rather

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

History and Etymology for rather

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rather

Dictionary Entries near rather


rat hare






Statistics for rather

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rather

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rather



English Language Learners Definition of rather

: to some degree or extent

—used to introduce a statement that indicates what is true after you have said what is not true

—used to introduce a statement that corrects what you have just said


rath·er | \ ˈra-t͟hər \

Kids Definition of rather

1 : somewhat entry 2 It's a rather cold day.

2 : more willingly I would rather stay home.

3 : more correctly or truly It's just ten minutes away, or rather nine and a half.

4 : instead The meals were not better but rather worse.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on rather

What made you want to look up rather? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!