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

Don Sweeney won General Manager of the Year for several reasons, but one of the biggest reasons was for his deadline pickups in Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle, who both proved rather valuable in the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. The Si Staff, SI.com, "A Question for Each NHL Team to Answer in the Offseason," 30 June 2019 Hopefully this isn’t goodbye but rather see you later -- maybe one day near my home, right off Tchoupitoulas Street. Jeff Duncan, nola.com, "My front row seat to the Golden Age of New Orleans sports," 28 June 2019 As such, the teeth of the almost entirely carnivorous crocodilians alive today are usually rather simple, Melstrom explains, but some of the extinct species had teeth with up to 20 separate surfaces. National Geographic, "Plant-eating crocodiles thrived in dinosaur times," 27 June 2019 The argument is rather simple: With less offices to keep populated, there will be more unemployed taxpayers. Azamat Omuraliev, Quartz, "We should start working less now to mentally prepare ourselves for automation," 27 June 2019 Unlike in other science and technological institutes, the curriculum does not attach the humanities courses as disconnected subjects, rather, they are composed to provide a socio-cultural background to learning and understanding science. Bitasta Das, Quartz India, "How I engage students of India’s premier science school in folk arts," 27 June 2019 The fact that this prediction is perhaps rather conservative is a testament to how quickly the field has exploded in just a decade. Jonathan O'callaghan, Scientific American, "Mysterious Outburst’s Quiet Cosmic Home Yields More Questions Than Answers," 27 June 2019 For many American families, summer isn't about embracing the sweltering heat, but rather heading north to seek refuge and stay active in the mountains. Houston Chronicle, "U.S. ski resorts offer hiking, biking and other summer activities," 26 June 2019 Here's what he's been up to: The 2020 Election The Democratic ballot for the 2020 presidential election is looking rather crowded these days, with close to two dozen candidates throwing their hats in the ring. The Editors, Town & Country, "Here's What Barack Obama Is Doing Now," 24 June 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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Dictionary Entries near rather


rat hare






Statistics for rather

Last Updated

4 Jul 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

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