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safety valve

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.
a harmless outlet for emotion, tension, etc.
Origin of safety valve
1805-15 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for safety-valve
Historical Examples
  • "If it's a safety-valve, it's all very well," replied her cousin.

    A Little Country Girl Susan Coolidge
  • A woman thinks you can get rid of steam by boxing it up and sitting on the safety-valve.

    They and I Jerome K. Jerome
  • In this lies the safety-valve of the people, and also the best hope for the future of the race.

  • The boiler is shown at A and the safety-valve and filler at L.

    Boys' Book of Model Boats Raymond Francis Yates
  • Epigram breaks out the more for repressive legislation; it is like steam in an engine without a safety-valve.

  • It was a safety-valve which had worked satisfactorily at the right moment.

  • When an engine is full of steam, it is a bad thing to sit on its safety-valve.

    The Battle of Principles Newell Dwight Hillis
  • It is impossible to over-estimate the value of this safety-valve.

    The Soul of a People H. Fielding
  • The one redeeming feature in these imprecatory petitions is that they have always served the Oriental as a safety-valve.

    The Syrian Christ Abraham Mitrie Rihbany
  • I could hear the water spouting out of her side and the blowing off of the safety-valve.

    Sea Stories Various
British Dictionary definitions for safety-valve

safety valve

a valve in a pressure vessel that allows fluid to escape when a predetermined level of pressure has been reached
a harmless outlet for emotion, energy, tension, etc
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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