AskDefine | Define leisure

Dictionary Definition



1 time available for ease and relaxation; "his job left him little leisure" [syn: leisure time]
2 freedom to choose a pastime or enjoyable activity; "he lacked the leisure for golf"

User Contributed Dictionary



From leisir (French loisir), substantive use of a verb, from licēre ‘be permitted’.



  1. Freedom provided by the cessation of activities.
  2. Time free from work or duties.
    • 1924: ARISTOTLE. Metaphysics. Translated by W. D. Ross. Nashotah, Wisconsin, USA: The Classical Library, 2001. Book 1, Part 1.
      This is why the mathematical arts were founded in Egypt; for there the priestly caste was allowed to be at leisure.

Related terms

See also


freedom provided
time free

Extensive Definition

Leisure or free time, is a period of time spent out of work and essential domestic activity. It is also the period of discretionary time before or after compulsory activities such as eating and sleeping, going to work or running a business, attending school and doing homework, household chores, and day-to-day stress. The distinction between leisure and compulsory activities is loosely applied, i.e. people sometimes do work-oriented tasks for pleasure as well as for long-term utility.
For an experience to qualify as leisure, it must meet three criteria: 1) The experience is a state of mind. 2) It must be entered into voluntarily. 3) It must be intrinsically motivating of its own merit. (Neulinger, 1981)


The word leisure comes from the Latin word licere, meaning "to be permitted" or "to be free", via Old French leisir, and first appeared in the early 14th century. The notions of leisure and leisure time are thought to have emerged in Victorian Britain in the late nineteenth century, late in the Industrial Revolution. Early factories required workers to perform long shifts, often up to eighteen hours per day, with only Sundays off work. By the 1870s though, more efficient machinery and the emergence of trade unions resulted in decreases in working hours per day, and allowed industrialists to give their workers Saturdays as well as Sundays off work.
Affordable and reliable transport in the form of railways allowed urban workers to travel on their days off, with the first package holidays to seaside resorts appearing in the 1870s, a trend which spread to industrial nations in Europe and North America. As workers channeled their wages into leisure activities, the modern entertainment industry emerged in industrialized nations, catering to entertain workers on their days off. This Victorian concept - the weekend - heralded the beginning of leisure time as it is known today.

Types of leisure

  • Active leisure activities involve the you exertion of physical or mental energy. Low-impact physical activities include walking and yoga, which expend little energy and have little contact or competition. High-impact activities such as kick-boxing and soccer consume much energy and are competitive. Some active leisure activities involve almost no physical activity, but do require a substantial mental effort, such as playing chess or painting a picture. Active leisure and recreation overlap significantly.
  • Passive leisure activities are those in suck which a person does not exert any significant physical or mental energy, such as going to the cinema, watching television, or gambling on slot machines. Some leisure experts discourage these types of leisure activity, on the grounds that they do not provide the benefits offered by active leisure activities. For example, acting in a community booty drama (an active leisure activity) could build a person's skills or self-confidence. Nevertheless, passive leisure activities are a hole good way of relaxing for many people.

Further reading

  • See here for a longer bibliography of the subject
  • Cross, Gary S. 2004. Encyclopedia of recreation and leisure in America. The Scribner American civilization series. Farmington Hills, MI: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  • Jenkins, John M., and J. J. J. Pigram. 2003. Encyclopedia of leisure and outdoor recreation. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415252261.
  • Peter Borsay, A History of Leisure: The British Experience since 1500, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006, ISBN 0333930827
leisure in Arabic: وقت فراغ
leisure in Aragonese: Ozio
leisure in Guarani: Mba'apo'y
leisure in Danish: Fritid
leisure in German: Freizeit
leisure in Estonian: Vaba aeg
leisure in Spanish: Ocio
leisure in Esperanto: Ripozo
leisure in French: Loisir
leisure in Friulian: Timp libar
leisure in Western Frisian: Frije tiid
leisure in Ido: Liber-tempo
leisure in Icelandic: Tómstundagaman
leisure in Italian: Ozio
leisure in Japanese: レジャー
leisure in Hungarian: Szabadidő
leisure in Korean: 여가
leisure in Dutch: Vrije tijd
leisure in Norwegian: Fritid
leisure in Polish: Czas wolny
leisure in Portuguese: Lazer
leisure in Russian: Отдых
leisure in Sicilian: Passatempu
leisure in Simple English: Leisure
leisure in Swedish: Fritid
leisure in Tamil: பொழுதுபோக்கு
leisure in Turkish: Otium
leisure in Ukrainian: Відпочинок
leisure in Walloon: Tins fouzeure
leisure in Chinese: 休閒

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

at leisure, at liberty, at loose ends, available, disengaged, ease, fallow, free, free time, freedom, holiday, idle, inactive, jobless, leisured, liberty, lumpen, off, off duty, off work, open, opportunity, otiose, out of employ, out of harness, out of work, quiet, recreation, recreational, relaxation, relief, repose, respite, rest, resting, retired, semiretired, spare, spare time, time off, tranquillity, unemployable, unemployed, unencumbered, unhurriedly, unoccupied, vacation
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