safety valve

noun
1.
a device that, when actuated by a gas or vapor pressure above a predetermined level, opens and allows the gas or vapor to escape until its pressure is reduced to a pressure equal to or below that of the predetermined level. Compare relief valve.
2.
a harmless outlet for emotion, tension, etc.

Origin:
1805–15

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To safety valve
Collins
World English Dictionary
safety valve
 
n
1.  a valve in a pressure vessel that allows fluid to escape when a predetermined level of pressure has been reached
2.  a harmless outlet for emotion, energy, tension, etc

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
Second, if something goes wrong there is safety valve.
He is a punishing inside runner who also provides great value as a safety valve
  receiver.
The government is suspected of condoning a certain amount of ethnic and
  religious unrest as a safety valve.
The initiative process, originally meant as a safety valve, has in reality
  become a rival to the legislature.
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