There are a lot of verbs meaning "to relax" or "to rest". It's unclear what the difference between them exactly is. Some of the verbs are: "sich ausruhen", "sich entspannen", "ausspannen", "sich erholen". Is there any difference in meaning between the mentioned verbs in day-to-day usage? Maybe some of them sound unnatural in some contexts and some are preferable in others. Dictionaries often translate these verbs as "to relax" or "to have a rest" but the subtle differences in their meanings and their usage are unclear.

  • Is alles nur noch "chillen". :) Im Ernst: Im Wörterbuch die Gegensuche machen (was heißt "ausruhen"? und bei konkreten Unklarheiten noch mal nachfragen. Vote to close weil zu allgemein, unklar was die Frage ist. Sep 7, 2015 at 22:05
  • 1
    @falkb it's open again, I'll clean up my comments now Sep 10, 2015 at 20:16

2 Answers 2


Basically, they all mean the same. Though each one has a slight different viewpoint.

  • "sich ausruhen" just means you need calm (Ruhe). Often this is the case after stress. You simply need a break. Your power has gone.
  • "sich entspannen" and "ausspannen" are literally meant to reduce the tension (Spannung), although prefix "aus-" emphasizes you're taking yourself "out" of the stress location, while prefix "ent-" emphasizes your body is de-stressing
  • "sich erholen" preferable means to recover from a former (maybe medical) problem state, illness or exhaustion or something.

There is a smooth transition of usuage. But an athlete would prefer "sich ausruhen" after a competition, while a deseased man would "sich erholen", while a working man would "ausspannen" after work, and you would "entspannen" on a yoga mat.

  • 1
    Erholung ist fester Bestandteil des Athletendeutsch, zum Beispiel auch für die Pausen beim Intervalltraining.
    – Carsten S
    Sep 7, 2015 at 14:01
  • ja, deswegen habe ich als Zustand Erschöpfung mit dazu genommen. Wie gesagt, die Übergänge sind fließend...
    – äüö
    Sep 7, 2015 at 14:24

I could give you some concrete examples / circumstances of how I'd use each if you'd like:

"sich ausruhen" - for example when you're down with a cold, I use it mainly in a physical context referring to my body, be it physically or mentally you come to a rest

"sich entspannen" - while watching a movie, or whatever activity that you enjoy and relaxes you

"ausspannen" - as falkb pointed out, it carries the connotation of relaxing for a longer time with a conscious focus on avoiding what stressed you

"sich erholen" - I'd translate it to " to recuperate" (your strength or what have you)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.