safety valve

noun

Definition of safety valve 

1 : an automatic escape or relief valve (as for a steam boiler)

2 : an outlet for pent-up energy or emotion

3 : something that relieves the pressure of overcrowding

Examples of safety valve in a Sentence

His hobbies act as a safety valve, relieving some of the pressure he feels from his job.

Recent Examples on the Web

Lakes Michigan and Huron have no such safety valve. Tony Briscoe, chicagotribune.com, "What happens when Lake Superior has too much water? It dumps it into an already overflowing Lake Michigan," 13 July 2018 Human nature abhors a boss, and politically, democracy serves as a safety valve. James Stavridis, Time, "Democracy Isn't Perfect, But It Will Still Prevail," 12 July 2018 The federal money also will be spent widening the Sacramento Weir, a mechanism north of the city that acts as a safety valve by channeling flood waters into the Yolo Bypass. Dale Kasler, sacbee, "Trump administration sends Sacramento $1.8 billion for flood protection," 5 July 2018 That approach has become a crucial safety valve for Canada as the number of refugee claimants has doubled over the past year. Selena Ross, Washington Post, "Asylum seekers have flooded into Canada. The government is putting them to work.," 20 May 2018 In the English legal tradition before the framing of the Constitution, kings issued pardons, a necessary safety valve in a legal system with rigid rules and a heavy use of capital punishment. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The Rule of Law Is Crumbling Further Each Day Under Trump," 10 June 2018 In Stover, Loyola has a reliable safety valve in the cage. Edward Lee, baltimoresun.com, "Review & preview: Loyola Maryland men’s lacrosse," 8 June 2018 Freshmen Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson received praise, too, though their collective role this offseason is to push the two veterans and serve as a safety valve in case of emergency. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas QB competition won’t be settled this spring," 6 Apr. 2018 For some Republicans, standing by while Trump goes after Amazon might just be the perfect safety valve for releasing their own public anger at Silicon Valley. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Why Conservatives Tolerate Trump’s Crony Capitalism," 30 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'safety valve.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of safety valve

1744, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about safety valve

Share safety valve

Statistics for safety valve

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for safety valve

The first known use of safety valve was in 1744

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for safety valve

safety valve

noun

English Language Learners Definition of safety valve

: a part in a machine that opens automatically to release steam, water, gas, etc., when pressure becomes too great

: something that allows someone to release mental stress and tension in a harmless way

More from Merriam-Webster on safety valve

See words that rhyme with safety valve

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about safety valve

Comments on safety valve

What made you want to look up safety valve? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!