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I'd sooner starve than eat that disgusting food.

I'd rather starve than eat that disgusting food.

Why 'sooner' becomes 'rather'? Literally speaking, it's weird.

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    Are you asking why sooner means the same thing as rather?
    – stangdon
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 17:43
  • Yes, exactly. It's a weird thing because 'sooner' is a comparative form of 'soon'.
    – gomadeng
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 17:50
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    Wait til you find "I'd as soon …" or even "I'd as soon a…" which is possibly dialectic. They're idioms. Once something becomes idiomatic, it survives other changes in the language. I would think 'sooner' is an older form than 'rather' but I have nothing but gut feel to back that up. Commented May 31, 2023 at 18:07
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    @DoneWithThis.: Here you are. Back your gut feel up with that usage chart, showing that I'd sooner starve was much more common than I'd rather starve until the 1830s. Commented May 31, 2023 at 18:44
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    @gomadeng It's a weird thing because 'sooner' is a comparative form of 'soon'. "Rather" is also a comparative form, although its absolute form hasn't survived. M-W says: "from Old English hrathor, comparative of hrathe quickly" Commented Jun 1, 2023 at 1:45

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They are two very different words, but in this context, they both amount to the same thing.

I'd sooner starve - I am going to starve before I eat disgusting food.

I'd rather starve - I would prefer starvation to eating disgusting food.

Sooner here means the speaker would do thing before doing other thing.

Rather is a direct comparison: in the choice of two options, I would do thing and not other thing

I'd sooner . . . is more old-fashioned. I'd rather . . . is used more often now.

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  • @LeLtter a minor one: not the other thing. (one, the other, if there are only two options)
    – gomadeng
    Commented Jun 1, 2023 at 19:18

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