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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for rather


first, preferably, readily, soon, willingly


involuntarily, unwillingly

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Or, rather, my $10.99, which seems to be the going rate for a six of adult sodas not made by Bud or Miller. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Paul Daugherty's Morning Line: Cincinnati Reds need the off day, and other MLB thoughts," 12 July 2018 But the company has long said that the Surface line’s main reason for being isn’t sales volume, but rather as a way to show off what Windows can do when Microsoft designs the hardware. Hayley Tsukayama, courant.com, "Microsoft Shrinks The Surface To A Purse-Friendly Size," 11 July 2018 Mostly, Will gets to work, or rather Mr. Johnson does, as the character undergoes the hero’s crucible of suffering with throbbing muscles, an impressive deadpan and yards of duct tape. New York Times, "Review: In ‘Skyscraper,’ Dwayne Johnson Scales a Tower of Clichés," 11 July 2018 That’s plainly not the case in light of the text of the article; rather, what happened was that some people were offended by the column, and BI responded by yanking it. Jesse Singal, Daily Intelligencer, "Business Insider Retracted a Bad Piece — and Set a Terrible Precedent," 11 July 2018 In addition to shedding light on the first American dogs’ origins, the study offers insights on pre-contact dogs’ connections—or rather, lack of connections—with modern dogs. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "European Dogs Devastated Indigenous American Pup Populations," 6 July 2018 Under the program, individuals will not be employees or even independent contractors of Amazon, but rather, be owners of their businesses, contracted with Amazon to deliver packages. Julie Creswell, Anchorage Daily News, "Amazon plans startup delivery services for its own packages," 28 June 2018 Nielsen claimed this policy is in place not as a deterrent to keep families of immigrants away from the border, as other administration officials have said, but rather as a means of keeping the children safe. Blair Guild, CBS News, "DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defends family separation in heated White House briefing," 18 June 2018 ColourPop just one-upped — or, rather, two-upped — the competition with a new line of 42 foundation shades. Shannon Barbour, The Cut, "ColourPop Just Launched 42 Shades of Foundation," 18 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.

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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

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Learn More about rather

Dictionary Entries near rather


rat hare






Statistics for rather

Last Updated

24 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rather

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

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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.

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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).


to express warning or disapproval

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