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Recently when talking to a friend about the lack of elevators in Asia he told me.

You should be relishing stairs

As a native English speaker the use of the word 'relishing' here sounded strange to me, although I can't quite figure out why, it seemed like a very odd thing to say in spoken English.

Why does it sound strange? Is there anything wrong with this construction?

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I like it! Although it may be "strange" (unfamiliar) to your ear, it is a nice way of expressing enthusiasm for a mildly taxing (for many of us) activity. Would "relishing taking the stairs" be more to your liking? – hardmath Apr 2 '14 at 7:33
@hardmath not really, lol, but I relish taking the stairs might be slightly better. – Samuel Parsonage Apr 3 '14 at 12:22

Relishing is a colourful and appropriate synonym for liking, but I would say it's only really appropriate to use to describe an action, not an object.


  1. to savour or enjoy (an experience) to the full
  2. to anticipate eagerly; look forward to
  3. to enjoy the taste or flavour of (food, etc); savour
  4. to give appetizing taste or flavour to (food), by or as if by the addition of pickles or spices


He relished the chance to show off his new skill.

I wouldn't eagerly anticipate or look forward to a staircase; but I might eagerly anticipate or look forward to climbing it.

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Very interesting. You may be right, but I had never considered it more appropriate to describe an action than an object. OP's referenced phrase bothers me because I don't use relish so much and I tend to think of it in situations where savoring might be used. Very interesting! – Mike Apr 2 '14 at 10:45
Yes, "relish" is mostly used in terms of eating, so it's a good synonym for savor. – Jeffrey Kemp Apr 2 '14 at 11:13
@Mike and Jeffery Kemp, my thoughts exactly! Relish in my mind is most properly used in the context of food, "savouring stairs" sounds equally strange! – Samuel Parsonage Apr 3 '14 at 12:28

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