What does rather mean?

Definitions for rather
ˈræð ər, ˈrɑ ðərrather

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word rather.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. rather, insteadadverb

    on the contrary

    "rather than disappoint the children, he did two quick tricks before he left"; "he didn't call; rather (or instead), he wrote her a letter"; "used English terms instead of Latin ones"

  2. rather, kind of, kinda, sort ofadverb

    to some (great or small) extent

    "it was rather cold"; "the party was rather nice"; "the knife is rather dull"; "I rather regret that I cannot attend"; "He's rather good at playing the cello"; "he is kind of shy"

  3. preferably, sooner, ratheradverb

    more readily or willingly

    "clean it well, preferably with warm water"; "I'd rather be in Philadelphia"; "I'd sooner die than give up"

  4. quite, ratheradverb

    to a degree (not used with a negative)

    "quite tasty"; "quite soon"; "quite ill"; "quite rich"


  1. ratherverb

    To prefer; to prefer to.

  2. ratheradverb

    More quickly; sooner, earlier.

  3. ratheradverb

    Used to specify a choice or preference; preferably.

  4. ratheradverb

    Used to introduce a contradiction; on the contrary.

  5. ratheradverb

    Introducing a qualification or clarification; more precisely. (Now usually preceded by or.)

  6. ratheradverb

    Somewhat, fairly.

  7. Etymology: From rather, rether, from hraþor, comparative of hraþe, equivalent to. More at rathe.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Ratheradverb

    Now out of use.

    Etymology: this is a comparative from rath; rað , Saxon, soon.

    Almighty God desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live. Common Prayer.

    ’Tis rather to be thought, that an heir had no such right by divine institution, than that God should give such a right, but yet leave it undeterminate who such heir is. John Locke.

    He sought through the world, but sought in vain,
    And no where finding, rather fear’d her slain. Dryden.

    This is an art,
    Which does mend nature, change it rather, but
    The art itself is nature. William Shakespeare, Winter’s Tale.

    You are come to me in a happy time,
    The rather for I have some sport in hand. William Shakespeare.

    ’Tis with reluctancy he is provoked by our impenitence to apply the discipline of severity and correction; he had rather mankind should adore him as their patron and benefactor. John Rogers, Sermons.


  1. rather

    Rather can be used as an adverb to mean "more willingly" or "to a higher degree" in comparison to something else. It can also be used to express preference or choice, indicating a preference for one option over another. Additionally, it can be used to indicate hesitation or doubt in a statement or to introduce a contrasting or unexpected idea.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Ratheradjective

    prior; earlier; former

  2. Ratheradjective

    earlier; sooner; before

  3. Ratheradjective

    more readily or willingly; preferably

  4. Ratheradjective

    on the other hand; to the contrary of what was said or suggested; instead

  5. Ratheradjective

    of two alternatives conceived of, this by preference to, or as more likely than, the other; somewhat

  6. Ratheradjective

    more properly; more correctly speaking

  7. Ratheradjective

    in some degree; somewhat; as, the day is rather warm; the house is rather damp

  8. Etymology: [Compar. of Rath, a.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Rather

    räth′ėr, adv. more willingly: in preference: especially: more so than otherwise: on the contrary: somewhat, in some degree: more properly: (coll.) considerably, very much.—adj. Rath′erish, to a slight degree, somewhat.—Rather better than, somewhat in excess of.—The rather, by so much the more. [A.S. hrathor, comp. of hrathe, early.]

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Rather is ranked #15309 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Rather surname appeared 1,917 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 1 would have the surname Rather.

    72.4% or 1,388 total occurrences were White.
    17.5% or 336 total occurrences were Black.
    4.6% or 89 total occurrences were Asian.
    2.8% or 55 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    2.2% or 43 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    0.3% or 6 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'rather' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #444

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'rather' in Written Corpus Frequency: #442

  3. Adverbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'rather' in Adverbs Frequency: #61

How to pronounce rather?

How to say rather in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of rather in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of rather in Pythagorean Numerology is: 7

Examples of rather in a Sentence

  1. John Bel Edwards:

    I think getting eyes on the damage in person rather than reading about it, rather than hearing about it, rather than seeing it on TV is really important, because this is going to be a marathon, and we’re going to need a lot of help from our federal partners for a long time to come. And we need some of that help immediately.

  2. California Gov. Gavin Newsom:

    There was a casual conversation about the 170 ventilators that came from the national stockpile directly to LA County, the conversation wasn't just about those 170, it was about the fact those 170 were not working, and rather than lamenting about it, rather than complaining about it, rather than pointing fingers, rather than generating headlines in order to generate more stress and anxiety, we got a car, and a truck, and we had those 170 brought here to this facility at 8 a.m. this morning.

  3. Professor Robin Room:

    They are taxed on the value of the product as it is sold, rather than on any particular amount of alcohol it has in it, so the people who are making the expensive stuff are taxed at a higher rate, and if they don’t make the cheap stuff as well, they feel that they’re being treated rather badly.

  4. Jack London:

    I would rather be ashes than dust I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

  5. John Nicholson:

    You may not know where you're going to fight or when you're going to fight. Therefore you need to focus on your readiness, being ready to fight sooner rather than later. Days rather than weeks.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for rather

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for rather »


Find a translation for the rather definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"rather." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 29 Nov. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/rather>.

Discuss these rather definitions with the community:


    Are we missing a good definition for rather? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Browse Definitions.net


    Are you a words master?

    of persons; taken advantage of
    • A. nasty
    • B. opaque
    • C. reassuring
    • D. victimised

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for rather: