Fanning (hot) air off the soul is an approximate translation to the Arabic idiom الترويح عن النفس. It means to do something recreational to relax and change your mood.

Are there any similar idioms in English? In Arabic it is used as a verb when you alter the noun to a verb. It's very formal, punny and articulate in Arabic.

An example of its use as a verb: If there is straitness welling up in your chest and you feel so lonesome, why don't you go on hunting to fan some of that hot air off your soul, to change your prevailing mood and ease out, etc.

In slang Arabic, people say 'How is the weather?' as in 'How is your weather?' or 'How are you?' If you're feeling gloomy or unwell, they might say, 'Let's do something to change the/your weather.' I thought this might help in understanding that some idioms and sayings are so peculiar and hilarious when translated.

I'm trying to approximate this idiom's meaning in English. I think translation from one language to another always causes discombobulation and difficulties both to the translator and then to the audience who'll have to try and comprehend what they have said. Try although transiently to think as those people might and to see things from the perspective of their customs and culture.

4 Answers 4


to take a load off (meaning to relax, especially from stressful circumstances) seems similar, but without the weather associations. Also, it is a common idiom, and is not punny or witty.

Also, to chill out (meaning to relax) seems worth mentioning since, like your idiom, it is a temperature metaphor.

For a more formal or literary variant, you might go with to calm one's soul or to soothe one's soul.

  • In arabic الترويح comes from the stem ريح which means wind, hence the weather associations. It is witty in Arabic.
    – user151577
    Jan 6, 2016 at 2:33
  • would I use those at a very formal situation though. I mentioned it is very formal in Arabic. There are less formal and other informal synonyms to 'fan hot air off your soul' too. So would it be appropriate to use this in a formal situation.
    – user151577
    Jan 6, 2016 at 2:40
  • I'm not really sure what constitutes a formal situation, or the limits it would impose on using idioms, but I guess I'd lean towards no, these should not be used in formal contexts. They are rather slangy, especially the second one (to chill out). But see my edit.
    – DyingIsFun
    Jan 6, 2016 at 2:44
  • Are you familiar with anything said in a formal situation? Nonetheless, your suggestions have been very helpful indeed.
    – user151577
    Jan 6, 2016 at 2:47

do something to relax and change your mood, something of a recreation.

Blow off some steam is not formal but has been around since the rise of the railroads. It's a metaphor that indicates that if you keep going like this you're going to explode. It doesn't mean relax. It's about actively finding something else to focus on. Usually an activity, such as exercise. May also be talking. In this specific case, it's called venting.

You need a change of scenery is a prompt to get out of your current patterns by changing your location.

A change is as good as a rest is a prompt to try something new rather than let your current habits grind you down.

Take a load off is an informal invitation to relax. Something a host says to a guest inviting them to sit down. The load is your body. It's being taken off your feet.

Chill out is not formal and is almost confrontational.

how is the weather as in how is your weather as in how are you.

How are you? Is formal and traditional to the point of being a meaningless greeting (especially in new york). I remember reading a BYU pamphlet that prepared you to experience cultural differences in different countries and couldn't resist looking up my own country. After being told about other country's taboo's (don't show the bottoms of your feet, etc) I was shocked to learn that the taboo listed for the USofA is to actually answer this question when asked.

Seriously, how are you doing? Is an attempt to get around the meaningless greeting interpretation and get a real answer. It is also formal.

Penny for your thoughts is not formal, but actually intimate. It's a bribe that invites you to open up and talk about what's on your mind.

I think translation from one language to another always causes discombobulation and difficulties.

Lost in translation is our idiom for this. Some expressions are constructs of the language itself so don't translate well, such as puns. Other represent ideas missing from the target culture. For these please do try to find a way teach them to us. The only advantage to having this bastard language that borrows words and rules from everywhere regardless of the confusion caused is that we get a ton of ideas. So try to give us more.

At the very least please tell us how to pronounce this Arabic idiom.


If you're looking for a single-word equivalent, "unwind" is often used in the way you're describing. The expression evokes a tightly wound spring being loosened, as a metaphor for releasing of emotional stress.

"I had a miserable day at work. A nice long walk in the park will help me unwind."


I'd suggest, take one's mind off something

take someone's mind off something/someone: If an activity takes someone's mind off their problems, it stops them from thinking about them That's the good thing about helping other people - it takes your mind off your own problems. Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed

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