let off steam
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let off (some) steam
1. Literally, to release or emit steam. Should I turn down the heat? That pot is letting off a lot of steam.
2. To release strong emotions or energy by engaging in some kind of enjoyable, vigorous, or relaxing activity. I went on a run to let off steam after our fight. When work gets frustrating, I like to go bowling to let off some steam.
let off (some) steamand blow off (some) steam
1. Lit. [for something] to release steam. The locomotive let off some steam after it came to a halt. With a great hiss, it let off steam and frightened the children.
2. Fig. to work or play off excess energy. Those boys need to get out and let off some steam. Go out and let off steam!
3. Fig. to release one's pent-up emotions, such as anger, usually verbally. I'm sorry I yelled at you. I guess I needed to let off some steam. She's not that mad. She's just letting off steam.
let off steammainly BRITISH or
blow off steammainly AMERICAN
COMMON If you let off steam or blow off steam, you do or say something which helps you to express or get rid of strong feelings of anger about something. Note: The following expressions refer to the use of steam to provide power for a machine, especially a steam engine. Our teams meets every two weeks, giving everyone a chance to let off steam. I was so annoyed, I had to go for a run just to let off steam. The discussions offer students an opportunity to blow off steam about their teachers. Note: The reference here is to steam escaping noisily from the safety valve of a steam engine.
let (or blow) off steamget rid of pent-up energy or emotion. informal
The image here is of the release of excess steam from a steam engine through a valve.