used as adverb of degree
Rather means ‘to a small extent’.
It's a rather sad story.
You can use rather in front of like when you are using like as a preposition.
This animal looks and behaves rather like a squirrel.
She imagined a life rather like that of the Kennedys.
Rather in this sense is mainly used in writing. In conversation you would normally use a bit.
I'm a bit confused
It tastes a bit like a tomato.
Several words and expressions can be used to say that something is the case to a smaller or greater extent.
Rather is also used to soften the effect of the word or expression that follows it. For example, if someone asks you to do something, you might say ‘I’m rather busy'. You mean that you are busy, but rather makes your reply seem more polite.
I'm rather puzzled by this question.
He did it rather badly.
Rather is more common in British than American English in the above senses.
If you say that you would rather do something, you mean that you would prefer to do it. In speech, would rather is usually contracted to 'd rather. If you write down what someone says, you usually write 'd rather.
I'll order tea. Or perhaps you'd rather have coffee.
‘What was all that about?’ – ‘I’m sorry, I'd rather not say.'
In sentences like these you use an infinitive without to after would rather.
You can also use would rather followed by a clause to say that you would prefer something to happen or be done. In the clause you use the past simple.
Would you rather she came to see me?
‘May I go on?’ – ‘I’d rather you didn't.'
Rather than is used to link words or expressions of the same type. You use rather than when you have said what is true and you want to compare it with what is not true.
I have used familiar English names rather than scientific Latin ones.
It made him frightened rather than angry.
correcting a mistake
You can also use rather when you are correcting a mistake you have made, or when you think of a better word than the one you have just used.
There'd been a message, or rather a series of messages, on Dalziel's answering machine.
He explained what the Crux is, or rather, what it was.
'rather' also found in these entries (Many are not synonyms or translations):
actually - afloat - afternoon - anxious - around - arrival - aural - bottom - by - concentrate - conscious - constant - contrary - cook - cupboard - currant - data - depend - each - evening - exhausted - fair - female - find - first name - foot - for - front - home - ill - instead - love - make - male - many - mathematics - mind - more - morning - need - nervous - night - of - often - onto - opposite - outdoors - parcel - prefer - present