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In the US, it is common for workers to take a half-hour or hour lunch break in the middle of the day, plus two ten or fifteen minute breaks in the morning and afternoon. Spanish has many words that can be translated "break" (descanso, recreo, pausa, entreacto, interrupción, vacaciones, etc).

What is the best way to describe a break from work (during the day, not an extended vacation) in Spanish?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

I think the best translation would be descanso. The RAE lists:

Quietud, reposo o pausa en el trabajo o fatiga.

as one of the meanings of descanso.

  • recreo would probably be best translated as "recess";
  • pausa is closer to "pause";
  • entreacto is closer to "intermission";
  • interrupción is closer to "interruption";
  • vacaciones is closer to "vacation";
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+1 for descanso – dusan Dec 16 '11 at 1:01
It might depend on what country you want to use this in. In Mexico I only ever heard pausa in this exact sense though many of the people I knew who used it were actually volunteers from Germany so their usage might've been influenced by German. Personally I only used descanso to refer to a rest, but I could've been translating too literally. – hippietrail Dec 16 '11 at 13:13
Here in Spain the only usage I have noticed is "descanso" – Bala Clark Dec 16 '11 at 15:14
"Receso" is also be possible but it's more formal. – Juanillo Dec 16 '11 at 20:29
En la mayoría de las circusnstancias,especialmente en contextos laborales, break será bien entendido tal cual. – David Lay Dec 22 '11 at 18:57

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