Definition for RATH'ER

RATH'ER, adv. [Sax. rathor, hrathor; comp. of rath, quick, prompt, hasty, ready. So we use sooner in an equivalent sense. I would rather go, or sooner go. The use is taken from pushing or moving forward. So the Italians use anzi (L. ante, before.) “Ma egli disse, anzi, beati coloro ch'odono la parola di Dio, e l'osservano.” But he said, yea rather, happy are they that hear the word of God and keep it. – Luke xi.]

  1. More readily or willingly, with better liking; with preference or choice. My soul chooseth strangling and death rather than life. – Job vii. Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. – John iii.xxxiv.
  2. In preference; preferably; with better reason. Good is rather to be chosen than evil. See Acts v.
  3. In a greater degree than otherwise. He sought throughout the world, but sought in vain, / And no where finding, rather fear'd her slain. – Dryden.
  4. More properly, more correctly speaking. This is an art / Which does mend nature, change it rather; but / The art itself is nature. – Shak.
  5. Noting some degree of contrariety in fact. She was nothing better, but rather grew worse. – Mark v. Matth. xxvii. The rather, especially; for better reason; for particular cause. You are come to me in a happy time, / The rather for I have some sport in hand. – Shak. Had rather, is supposed to be a corruption of would rather. I had rather speak five words with my understanding. – 1 Cor. xiv. This phrase may have been originally, “I'd rather,” for I would rather, and the contraction afterward mistaken for had. Correct speakers and writers generally use would in all such phrases; I would rather, I prefer; I desire in preference.

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