rath·​er | \ ˈra-t͟hər How to pronounce rather (audio) , 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


fain, 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

In a real ransomeware attack, a hacker will typically demand a small amount of money in exchange for the key that will decrypt the files — usually a small enough amount that people would rather just pay to get rid of the inconvenience. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Security researchers find that DSLR cameras are vulnerable to ransomware attack," 11 Aug. 2019 And then there is the rather inconvenient fact that universal background checks do not actually work. The Editors, National Review, "Against Universal Background Checks," 9 Aug. 2019 Alexander’s day Despite uneven – and rather respectable – numbers in four starts this season, Alexander (0-3) has yet to find the win column. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers fall without much of a fight, 8-1 to Chicago White Sox," 7 Aug. 2019 Clad in the jersey and shoulder pads, Straus isn’t interested in the game, but rather in her crush, sitting in the stands filming her. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "Watch King Princess Feed Slices of Herself to a Party of People in Surreal 'Prophet' Video," 7 Aug. 2019 So those who can access credit are wary of investing and would rather invest abroad, while those who still wish to invest cannot access credit. Jayati Ghosh, Quartz India, "While India was busy celebrating its “ease of doing business” ranking, its real economy tanked," 5 Aug. 2019 But the quality of eccentricity here is such that people are rather gentle and slightly unselfconscious and, oddly enough, quite unsnobby. Simon Usborne, Town & Country, "How Rumors of a Feud Between Kate Middleton and Rose Cholmondeley Captivated a Posh Corner of Britain," 5 Aug. 2019 The photograph, much like their wedding, was rather impromptu. Paula Allen, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio’s ‘sidewalk photographers’ captured Houston Street life," 27 July 2019 Cost: $36,000 Details: The 320-square-foot house uses a new sea container as the structural shell—not a recycled one—and includes a rather plain bedroom, shower, toilet, sink, small kitchenette, appliances, and living area. Megan Barber, Curbed, "5 tiny houses you can buy on Amazon," 26 July 2019

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

15 Aug 2019

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 How to pronounce rather (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on rather

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rather

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rather

Spanish Central: Translation of rather

Nglish: Translation of rather for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rather for Arabic Speakers

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).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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