What is the difference between 'take off' and 'rest'?

Or do they have same meaning?

For example, I usually heard 'I took a day off' in my daily life when I was in an English speaking country, but I rarely heard 'I rest a day.' But because the dictionary says both have same meaning, I am just wondering if I can switch 'take off' to 'rest'.

  • 5
    The two usages mean different things. To take a day off [work] simply means to not go to work for a day. You can take a day off from any activity that you would normally do most days, but that doesn't necessarily imply that you'll be "resting" instead. You might use your day off to do something much more strenuous than whatever you normally do. Feb 1, 2016 at 15:28
  • They're not directly interchangeable without some adjustments to the rest of the sentence. "I rest a day" is not grammatically correct, except in some very narrow contexts that aren't worth getting into. The fact that you (correctly) split "take off" around other words indicates you may have already understood this. A conversation (admittedly and deliberately somewhat awkward, to get the desired phrasings) might go something like this: "Where were you yesterday?" "I took a day off." "What did you do?" "I wasn't feeling well; I spent the day resting."
    – T.J.L.
    Feb 1, 2016 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


To "take off" in this context means to not go to your job.

To "rest" means to stop working for a period of time.

The ideas are related. Often a person will take off from work so that he can rest.

I can see how reading a definition might be confusing. I carefully used the word "job" above, but we often refer to a person's job as his "work". So you could say that "take off" means to not work, and "rest" means to not work. But we're using "work" here with two different definitions. In the first case we mean "show up at the office or factory where you have a job". In the second case we mean "exert yourself, perform a task which requires effort".

You might take off from work (i.e. from your job) to do a home improvement project. The home improvement might be much more difficult and strenuous than your job, so you wouldn't say you are resting. You can take off but not rest.

Or you could take a break while at your job and rest for a while. Maybe you get a cup of coffee, or chat with co-workers about football. You are not "working" in the sense of exerting yourself, but you are "at work". Or maybe you're just lazy and although you show up at the office, you just sit around and chat on forums. (Oh, wait ...) You can rest but not take off.

Note that "take off" has (at least) two other totally unrelated meanings: It can mean to remove something, often an article of clothing. "Please take off your hat when you enter the building." It is also used to refer to the launching of an airplane or spacecraft. "The airplane will take off in 10 minutes."

  • Wow thank you for the kind, detail answer. If you are okay, I want to ask one more question. then can I use different words indicating time instead of 'day'? For example, can I use 'I took a week off.' to indicate I was not at the office last week because of the health problem??? Feb 1, 2016 at 16:34
  • 1
    Yes. It's common to say "take a week off" or "take off for a week". Or whatever period of time. People often say, "She took a year off work when she had a baby". Or at the other end of the scale, "I've got to take off a couple of hours to go to the doctor."
    – Jay
    Feb 1, 2016 at 16:36
  • 1
    Maybe this is just an extra layer of confusion, but people also sometimes say "take off" referring to themselves like they would a plane taking off. So you might way "I've got to take off a couple of hours early to go to the doctor" or, when leaving a party "I'm going to take off, bye!". In these cases it is synonymous with "leave".
    – Sarah
    Feb 1, 2016 at 19:18

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