Is there any difference between relax and rest? For example:

I have been working really hard late, so I guess I might as well relax for a while.

I have been working really hard late, so I guess I might as well rest for a while.

They sound the same to me, but I feel there is a different flavor of meaning between the two. If there isn't really any, then which one is more common?

3 Answers 3


Relax is more of a "slow down and take it easy" mode while rest is usually used to mean to literally stop whatever you are doing at the moment. So in your example sentence, I would likely assume if you use relax, that you did something as a hobby, for example, watching TV or reading a book. Using rest there, I would assume you took a nap or just sat there not really doing anything.


The verbs rest and relax are so near-synonyms that it takes one of them to explain the other:

To rest means to relax, sleep or do nothing after a period of activity or illness; to not use a part of your body for some time

The doctor told me to rest. Rest your eyes every half an hour.
I awoke feeling rested and refreshed.

To relax means to rest by doing something enjoyable, especially after work or effort

When I get home from work I like to relax with a glass of wine.

I'm going to spend the weekend just relaxing

As for the example sentences, it obviously should be "relax" implying the change of activity to something more pleasurable than work.

The source: Oxford Lerner's Thesaurus


Up first, when searching for definitions on Cambridge Dictionary, we find:

to relax (verb): to (cause someone to) become less active and more calm and happy, or to (cause a part of the body to) become less stiff.

to rest (verb): to (cause someone or something to) stop doing a particular activity or stop being active for a period of time in order to relax and get back your strength.

Thus, one might conclude that in order to relax, you need to rest first.

As to me, it sounds more like relaxing is taking your time to do things that amuse you, like watching a movie or listening to music, whereas resting is about recovering the energy you spent during certain activities, like when you go to sleep after a hard day at work.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .