Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Language: Old English
Origin: hrathor 'more quickly'

rather

predeterminer, adverb
     
ra‧ther S1 W1
1 fairly or to some degree:
I was rather surprised to see him with his ex-wife.
He was limping rather badly.
My own position is rather different.
Abigail's always been rather a difficult child. British English
Isn't it rather late (=a little too late) to start changing all the arrangements?
Actually I rather like the new style of architecture. British English
It was a nice house, but rather too small for a family of four. British English
The task proved to be rather more difficult than I had expected. British English
2

would rather

used to say that you would prefer to do or have something:
I'd rather have a quiet night in front of the TV.
We could eat later if you would rather do that.
'I think you'd better ask her.' ' I'd rather not (=I do not want to).'
would rather ... than ...
I'd rather die than apologize to Helen.
I'd rather you didn't go out alone (=I do not want you to go).
3

rather than

instead of:
I think you'd call it a lecture rather than a talk.
Rather than go straight on to university why not get some work experience first?
Bryson decided to quit rather than accept the new rules.
4

or rather

used before correcting something that you have said, or giving more specific information:
We all went in Vic's car, or rather his father's.
5

not ... but rather ...

used to say that one thing is not true but a different thing is true:
The problem is not their lack of funding, but rather their lack of planning.
6

rather you/him/her/them than me

spoken used to say that you are glad that you are not going to be doing something that someone else will be doing
7

Rather!

British English spoken old-fashioned used to agree with someone
WORD CHOICE: WORD CHOICE:

rather, fairly, quite, pretty
Rather, fairly, quite, and pretty are all used to say that something is true to some degree, but not completely or extremely She's rather shy. You should find the test fairly easy. It took quite a long time (NOT a quite long time). His English is pretty good.Rather is fairly formal but can be used in spoken English, especially British English. In American English it is more usual to use pretty. In both American and British English, pretty is more usual in speech than in writing.Quite can also be used in front of an adjective or adverb, and in British English a verb, to mean 'completely'. This is a fairly formal use You are quite wrong. I quite understand your feelings.

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