Had Had (h[a^]d), imp. & p. p. of {Have}. [OE. had, hafde, hefde, AS. h[ae]fde.] See {Have}. [1913 Webster]

{Had as lief}, {Had rather}, {Had better}, {Had as soon}, etc., with a nominative and followed by the infinitive without to, are well established idiomatic forms. The original construction was that of the dative with forms of be, followed by the infinitive. See {Had better}, under {Better}. [1913 Webster]

And lever me is be pore and trewe. [And more agreeable to me it is to be poor and true.] --C. Mundi (Trans.). [1913 Webster]

Him had been lever to be syke. [To him it had been preferable to be sick.] --Fabian. [1913 Webster]

For him was lever have at his bed's head Twenty bookes, clad in black or red, . . . Than robes rich, or fithel, or gay sawtrie. --Chaucer. [1913 Webster]

Note: Gradually the nominative was substituted for the dative, and had for the forms of be. During the process of transition, the nominative with was or were, and the dative with had, are found. [1913 Webster]

Poor lady, she were better love a dream. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

You were best hang yourself. --Beau. & Fl. [1913 Webster]

Me rather had my heart might feel your love Than my unpleased eye see your courtesy. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

I hadde levere than my scherte, That ye hadde rad his legende, as have I. --Chaucer. [1913 Webster]

I had as lief not be as live to be In awe of such a thing as I myself. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

I had rather be a dog and bay the moon, Than such a Roman. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. --Ps. lxxxiv. 10. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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