Meaning of “rather” in the English Dictionary

"rather" in British English

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ratheradverb

uk /ˈrɑː.ðər/ us /ˈræð.ɚ/

rather adverb (SMALL AMOUNT)

B1 quite; to a slight degree:

It's rather cold today, isn't it?
That's rather a difficult book - here's an easier one for you.
The train was rather too crowded for a comfortable journey.
She answered the phone rather sleepily.
I rather doubt I'll be able to come to your party.

More examples

  • It is a rather grey, colourless city, with few interesting sights or historical monuments.
  • His books tend to be rather densely written.
  • The company's prospects for the future are rather dim.
  • She found the formality of the occasion rather daunting.
  • To people who don't know him he probably appears (to be) rather unfriendly.

rather adverb (MORE EXACTLY)

B2 more accurately; more exactly:

She'll fly to California on Thursday, or rather, she will if she has to.
He's my sister's friend really, rather than mine.

used to express an opposite opinion:

The ending of the war is not a cause for celebration, but rather for regret that it ever happened.
No, I'm not tired. Rather the opposite in fact.

More examples

  • I'll be home before 6, or rather, I will unless I get asked to stay late again.
  • She's not shy. Rather the opposite.
  • She was in a good mood, or rather she was until she heard the bad news.
  • They go on holiday to France every year, or rather, they have done for the last ten years.
  • He's selling his flat, or rather, he will sell it if he can find a buyer.

rather adverb (PREFERENCE)

rather than

More examples

  • You can use cocoa powder to make the cake rather than chocolate - it's a bit of a cheat, but nobody notices the difference.
  • Helicopters are mainly used for military rather than civil use.
  • The matter would be better dealt with in the civil court rather than by an expensive criminal proceeding.
  • Most convalescents prefer to be cared for at home rather than in a hospital.
  • I prefer photographing people rather than places.

B1 instead of; used especially when you prefer one thing to another:

I think I'd like to stay at home this evening rather than go out.

ratheradverb, predeterminer

uk /ˈrɑː.ðər/ us /ˈræð.ɚ/

ratherexclamation

uk /ˌrɑːˈðɜːr/ us /ˌræðˈɝː/ UK old-fashioned

(Definition of “rather” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"rather" in American English

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ratheradverb [ not gradable ]

us /ˈræð·ər, ˈrɑ·ðər/

rather adverb [ not gradable ] (PREFERABLY)

in preference to, or as a preference:

She wants us to meet her here rather than go to her apartment.
I’d rather wear the black shoes.
She’s saying things that many would rather not hear.

rather adverb [ not gradable ] (MORE EXACTLY)

more accurately; more exactly:

These were not common criminals, but rather enemies of the state.

ratheradjective, adverb [ not gradable ]

us /ˈræð·ər, ˈrɑ·ðər/

rather adjective, adverb [ not gradable ] (TO SOME DEGREE)

to a noticeable degree; somewhat:

It all seems rather unimportant.

(Definition of “rather” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)