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Meaning of HAD

Webster's 1913 Dictionary
\Had\, imp. & p. p. of {Have}. [OE. had, hafde, hefde, AS.
See {Have}.

{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

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

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

         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.

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.

            Poor lady, she were better love a dream. --Shak.

            You were best hang yourself.       --Beau. & Fl.

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

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

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

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

            I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my
            God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.