For instance, the object related to cooking is a "dish", when playing it is "sport" or "game", when singing it's a "song".

Which single term would describe the object for the general act of doing something for leisure?

The closest I've got to is a "fun thing". So that I could say "I did a fun thing last weekend" as opposed to "I did work last weekend".

Would anyone like to volunteer a neologism if a term does not exist? Something catchy, please.

  • How about "n't work", as in "I didn't work last weekend"? ;) – Ben Hocking Jun 21 '11 at 14:50
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    @Ben, n't work I'm afraid, as that's not very catchy ;-) But thanks anyway. – Noel Abrahams Jun 21 '11 at 16:18
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    Do you mean hobby ?? – Fattie Jun 21 '11 at 21:02
  • @Joe, sort of... but going to a gig or a restaurant is not a hobby. A hobby is fun but there are more fun things than a hobby. – Noel Abrahams Jun 21 '11 at 21:44
  • With reference to @Callithumpian's post, here in the UK kids and teenagers often use fun as an adjective, as in "clipping toenails is such a fun thing". I am hoping that someone will come up with a catchy word (either existing or brand new) that means recreation, diversion, pastime/hobby/pursuit, lark, entertainment, amusement, leisure actvity... Perhaps funnery? – Noel Abrahams Jun 25 '11 at 12:26

12 Answers 12


Timepass is a useful little noun in Indian English that encompasses all the things you do just to pass the time. You could go for a walk, read a book, or go out to a restaurant, and if someone asked you what you were doing, you'd say, "Timepass".

The word does not include in its meaning activities that may be fun but require a high level of strenuous exercise. If you were climbing Mt. Everest, you would probably not call it timepass.

In fact, it only includes activities done for leisure. If you are young, it sometimes carries the sense of doing something (like hanging out at the local pub) because you have nothing better to do and don't really care. College students spend most of their time doing timepass. If you are older, timepass is an indulgence, like drinking coffee and reading a book on a rainy Sunday afternoon. And if you are older still, you sort of look down on all the kids wasting their lives away doing timepass, instead of something more constructive (like cleaning the house).

  • What a great little word. Seems to be similar to "chillin'". – Noel Abrahams Jun 28 '11 at 19:04
  • @CarpeDiem: It is similar to chillin', but you can't "do chillin'" whereas you can do timepass :-) – Tragicomic Jun 29 '11 at 11:56
  • In America, we say a great way to pass the time. Google has no definition for timepass and its Ngram is all but non-existent (both of which mean nothing, but they tell me everything I need to know about how widespread their usage isn't). – Mazura Sep 30 '15 at 2:59
  • @Mazura: When I type "timepass" into the Google search box, I get over 17 million hits. The Google search dropdown autofills such phrases as "timepass entertainment," "timepass websites," and "timepass games," all of which are examples of usage. My answer has a link to Oxford Dictionaries Online. The word is mainly used in Indian English. There are only about a billion Indians in the world, give or take a couple of hundred million. I'd say the usage of this word is pretty widespread here in India. – Tragicomic Sep 30 '15 at 4:07
  • @Mazura: Also note that timepass is not really a great way to pass the time but a way to the pass the time. For something to be timepass, it must be unproductive. So if you enjoy carpentry and make a chair, you aren't really doing timepass. But if you spend the entire day reading old comic books huddled up on the couch, you are doing timepass. :-) – Tragicomic Sep 30 '15 at 4:15

The best word is recreate or recreation, but it's rarely used the way you're talking about.

You could say, "we need time for recreation" or "I recreated this weekend." That's odd to say, but the meaning is clear. While you're at it try "Let's recreate!" That should get some interesting reactions.

That's the word you're looking for, but for whatever reason we don't use it that way.

The more common word we use is "play," as in "Let's play," or "I'm just going to play all weekend." The only problem with this word is it is heavily connoted as a child's activity.

  • I was just editing my answer to include "recreate" as a verb; when I hit the Submit button I found you'd just done the same thing. Wasn't trying to poach, honest! – MT_Head Jun 21 '11 at 17:33
  • Haha, no problem. – Andrew Jun 21 '11 at 17:36
  • I did happen upon play myself. And I think it's a very close match to what I want to say. But unfortunately, as you say, the word has been hijacked by the under 10 brigade - as well as all internet game websites. – Noel Abrahams Jun 21 '11 at 21:48
  • There was nothing in the question that asks for a verb. But if you want one, play is as good as any. It's not limited to activities kids engage in. (While not recreational for most, there is the phrase playing the market, which is far from kidlike, E*TRADE commercial notwithstanding. Recreational adult playing occurs in casinos and bedrooms as well. And then of course there are video games, which are played by a growing number of 30-somethings and 40-somethings, not just kids.) – John Y Jun 29 '11 at 20:49

I think it would be simplest just to say

I had fun last weekend.

You don't do fun in English, you have it.

I didn't get to have any fun this weekend. I had to do some work.

  • Yes, I understand that one doesn't "do" fun at present, but it's certainly possible (if you were to ask any 5-year old!). I've tagged it as a neologism as I don't think there is a word that describes collectively the idea of doing a fun thing. – Noel Abrahams Jun 21 '11 at 13:59
  • Could to "do fun" be interpreted as creating fun? – Alexander Jun 24 '11 at 22:04
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    @Alexander, I am seeing "to do" fun in the sense of "engaging in fun". – Noel Abrahams Jun 25 '11 at 12:29
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    @CarpeDiem: I think it's more like I threw you a life preserver and you said "Hey, that's not a rope!" Fun is the noun you're looking for, and the way to use it is to say you "had fun" — there isn't any other noun that is so inclusive that provides some kind of an antonym (not a precise one, mind you) to work. – Robusto Jun 26 '11 at 12:29
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    @CarpeDiem: fun may not be the word you are looking for, but that doesn't necessarily stop it being the right word. – user1579 Jun 28 '11 at 13:27

In the words of Mary Poppins, "A lark! A spree! Its very clear to see."

A fun thing can be a thrill, lark, spree, delight, joy, pleasure, laugh, joke, spectacle, amusement, binge, splurge, adventure, orgy, or escapade. Use a thesaurus with those words to find a lot more.

"Last weekend was a thrill; a spectacle; an orgy of delight."

"What's your pleasure?"

"Why did you do that?" "For amusement." (Just like "For sport.")

  • Thanks. I'm looking for that killer word that says it all. The points is going to a theme park is a "thrill" while going to an exhibition could be a delight or joy. But if we look at all these activities that one does for fun or relaxation, what would we call it? I hope that explains my question better. – Noel Abrahams Jun 21 '11 at 13:55
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    Let's just call it "fun" and make it happen. Fun happens. I did fun last weekend. ha ha – Peter DeWeese Jun 21 '11 at 14:07
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    @CarpeDiem, I would go with a pair "leisure" - "amusement" – Unreason Jun 21 '11 at 14:08
  • That's pretty much where i am at the moment. Julie: "I funned last weekend instead of working". Dick: "So did the fun make you happy?" Julie: "Why, yes. Blew me straight off my feet, it did - the wind, not the fun" – Noel Abrahams Jun 21 '11 at 14:28
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    I like "lark" personally. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 24 '11 at 16:03

It's not very catchy, but recreation is often used to describe the object of leisure activities; I believe the sense is that you are re-creating [ yourself / your soul / your joie de vivre ].

Most cities and municipalities in the US have a department dedicated to maintaining public leisure areas; that department is usually called "Parks and Recreation", which has been used as the title of a popular TV sitcom.

There's an abstinence-only catchphrase "Sex is for procreation, not recreation."

As for the second part of your question - using it as a verb - I have heard "recreated" used as a humorous back-formation; to get the point across, it's important to pronounce it "reh-created" (the same as in "recreation"), not "ree-created".

"So, Jim, whadja do this weekend?"
"Me and the wife, we recreated down at the lake."

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    This won't work, because any unfamiliar word used as a verb to tell what me and the wife did automatically takes the meaning "have sex", regardless of what you intended. For example: me and the wife haberdashed up and down Spring Street for two hours Saturday, if you can believe that. – Jason Orendorff Jun 21 '11 at 18:48
  • Works for me (wink wink, nudge nudge.) – MT_Head Jun 21 '11 at 18:50
  • I like recreate, but it's not catchy. Let me see what the girlfriend thinks about the suggestion ;-) – Noel Abrahams Jun 21 '11 at 21:46


An activity that occupies one's spare time pleasantly


An activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure

I indulged in my favourite pastime over the weekend and went horse riding. I indulged in my hobby over the weekend and went fishing.

  • I can't really buy horseriding/fishing as pastime/hobby. Listening to the radio/Stamp collecting, maybe. In general, I think the difference is hobbies invariably imply effort/commitment/etc. from the participant. This may apply to pastimes (of which hobbies are in some senses a subset), but it doesn't have to. – FumbleFingers Jun 25 '11 at 4:24
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    @FumbleFingers - "I can't really buy horseriding/fishing as pastime/hobby" - Really? You'll find these listed as pastimes and hobbies in a multitude of books. Perhaps horseriding only counts if the horse is wooden? The word hobby is glossed by the OED as "a small or middle-sized horse; an ambling or pacing horse; a pony." The word is attested in English from the 14th century, as Middle English hobyn. – user9682 Jun 25 '11 at 12:01
  • @osknows: The fact that hobby can mean a horse has nothing to do with the matter under discussion. Which is that I don't accept your definition of horseriding as a pastime, to be distinguished from fishing as a hobby. – FumbleFingers Jun 26 '11 at 12:31
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    @FumbleFingers I alluding to the etymology of 'hobby' - A hobby horse is a wooden or wickerwork toy made to be ridden just like a real horse (which was sometimes called a "Hobby"). From this came the expression "to ride one's hobby-horse", meaning "to follow a favorite pastime", and in turn, hobby in the modern sense of recreation. – user9682 Jun 26 '11 at 12:39
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    @Fumble, I haven't said "horseriding is a pastime, whereas fishing is a hobby"?. Use them interchangeably. Horseriding can be both a pastime and a hobby. Fishing can be both a pastime and a hobby. They're surely both activities one can do for pleasure. – user9682 Jun 26 '11 at 12:55

What about

My girlfriend and I had a pleasant diversion this weekend.


Last Friday, we had an enjoyable divertissement.

Or perhaps

You were entertained by friends, or yourselves entertained some company.

An entertainment in this context might give the sense of play you want without sounding excessively childish —

something affording pleasure, diversion, or amusement, especially a performance of some kind: The highlight of the ball was an elaborate entertainment.

  • divertissement is a nice word. Do you think it can be turned into something that rolls more easily off the tongue? – Noel Abrahams Jun 25 '11 at 17:40
  • @Carpe Divertimento is a sort of equivalent, but it refers specifically to a musical interlude. If you want a neologism, I suppose you could use "divertisse" or "diverti," which preserve the root and are easier to say. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 25 '11 at 21:31
  • Diversion is old-fashioned but it was a perfect fit. In Spanish this is the word for fun. – hippietrail Jun 27 '11 at 5:13

According to NOAD, us 'mericans are heartily maligning fun anyhow:

USAGE The use of fun as an adjective meaning ‘enjoyable,’ as in : we had a fun evening, is not fully accepted in standard English and should only be used in informal contexts. There are signs, however, that this situation is changing, given the recent appearance in U.S. English of comparative and superlative forms funner and funnest, formed as if fun were a normal adjective. The adjectival forms funner and funnest have not 'arrived' in all the dictionaries, however, and if employed at all, they should be used sparingly and not in formal written English.

Might as well take it all the way and start doing some fun, goshdurnit.


You cannot think of a good word for what you "do" for fun because that is the whole point of fun: it's not something you "do", it is something that happens.

< insert rant here on how people can't just relax and have fun anymore, we must needs be learning how to cook poisonous blowfish or indoor skydiving or snowboarding in Tibet or suchlike activities all the time>

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    Indoor skydiving is way fun. – Callithumpian Jun 25 '11 at 2:09
  • Agreed "fun" is more something that happens than something you do. Added to which the more often you "do" the same things as you did when you had fun before, the more likely it is you won't have fun doing them again. If you're lucky you'll still be entertained, or at least diverted. If not you'll be bored. – FumbleFingers Jun 25 '11 at 4:15

a few more..

Have a ball - I had a ball at the weekend.

Let your hair down - I had fun and let my hair down over the weekend.

Have a whale of a time - I had a whale of a time over the weekend.

Footloose and fancy free - I had no plans so I was footloose and fancy free this weekend.

Hell of a (good) time

Cavort, monkey around, fool around, frolic, revel, merrymaking, romp, rollick, escapade, an occurrence, a happening, have a blast, a shindig, a bash, an event, a function, a social affair, a do, a soiree and finally a riot.... :)


try avocation

"An activity taken up in addition to one's regular work or profession, usually for enjoyment; a hobby.

or check out this other definition:

"That which calls one away from one's regular employment or vocation."

  • Thanks. Yes, that's a useful word, although it sounds a bit old-fashioned. Also according to dictionary.com avocation also means your regular occupation - so sounds a bit like work. – Noel Abrahams Jun 27 '11 at 6:18

I reckon this one might suit:

Pursuit :an occupation, hobby, or pastime

As in:

Sarah is enjoying her pursuits in epicure and cooking.

Seems to fit, "hobby" and "pastime" all in one!

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