The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Rather \Rath"er\ (r[a^][th]"[~e]r; 277), adv. [AS. hra[eth]or,
compar. of hra[eth]e, hr[ae][eth]e, quickly, immediately. See
1. Earlier; sooner; before. [Obs.]
Thou shalt, quod he, be rather false than I.
A good mean to come the rather to grace. --Foxe.
2. More readily or willingly; preferably.
My soul chooseth . . . death rather than my life.
--Job vii. 15.
3. On the other hand; to the contrary of what was said or
Was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse. --Mark
4. Of two alternatives conceived of, this by preference to,
or as more likely than, the other; somewhat.
He sought throughout the world, but sought in vain,
And nowhere finding, rather feared her slain.
5. More properly; more correctly speaking.
This is an art
Which does mend nature, change it rather, but
The art itself is nature. --Shak.
6. In some degree; somewhat; as, the day is rather warm; the
house is rather damp.
The rather, the more so; especially; for better reason; for
You are come to me in happy time,
The rather for I have some sport in hand. --Shak.
Had rather, or Would rather, prefer to; prefers to; as,
he had rather, or would rather go than stay. "I had rather
speak five words with my understanding than ten thousand
words in an unknown tongue." --1 Cor. xiv. 19. See Had
rather, under Had.