• release pent-up emotions or frustrations
      To express or vent one's anger, frustration, or stress in a healthy or productive manner, usually through physical activity or talking to someone

    • relax or unwind
      To take a break or engage in a leisurely activity to relieve stress or tension

Examples of Let off steam

  • John's been working on that project for weeks without a break. He needs to let off some steam after all this stress.

    In this example, "let off steam" is used as a phrasal verb to mean releasing pent-up energy or emotion caused by stress or tension. John is feeling overwhelmed and needs to find an outlet to release his stress to calm down.

  • After a long day at work, Sarah went to the gym to let off some steam.

    In this example, Sarah went to the gym to release her tension and let out her energy through exercise.

  • In a heated argument, they both slammed down the phone, realizing they needed to let off some steam.

    This example shows that during an intense argument, both parties became angry and needed to take a break from the situation to calm down. "Let off steam" can also be used to describe a temporary cooling-off period in the midst of an argument.

  • The boss gave the team an opportunity to express their opinions and let off some steam about the new project.

    Here, "let off steam" is used in the context of a work environment where the boss provided a platform for the employees to voice their concerns about a new project, allowing them to release their frustrations and opinions.

  • John felt overwhelmed with frustration after work, so he decided to let off steam by going for a run in the park.

    The phrase "let off steam" is used to describe releasing pent-up energy or emotions. In this example, John's job may have caused him to accumulate a lot of stress, which he relieved through exercise.

  • After a long day of listening to customer complaints, Sarah's supervisor suggested she take some time to let off steam by playing a round of golf.

    In this example, the phrase "let off steam" is used to mean relaxing and unwinding in a way that helps to relieve stress.

  • During a heated argument, Eric's wife suggested that he take a time-out to let off steam before continuing the discussion.

    In this example, "let off steam" is used to mean calming down and cooling off before continuing a confrontational situation.

  • After seeing a particularly violent movie, Peter's friend recommended that he let off steam by watching a funny comedy instead of dwelling on the horror.

    In this example, "let off steam" is used to mean diverting one's attention to something less upsetting or stressful in order to relieve tension.


The idiom "let off steam" is often used to describe the act of releasing pent-up emotions or frustrations in a healthy or productive manner. This can include physical activities such as exercising or talking to someone about one's feelings. It can also refer to taking a break or engaging in a leisurely activity to relax and unwind.

The phrase can also be used to caution against suppressing one's emotions or frustrations for too long, as it can lead to negative consequences. In that sense, it serves as a reminder to take care of one's mental and emotional well-being.

Origin of "Let off steam"

The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. During this time, steam engines were used to power machines and factories, and they required a release valve to let off excess steam in order to function properly. This valve was often referred to as a "safety valve" as it prevented the pressure from building up and causing an explosion.

Over time, the phrase "let off steam" became associated with the idea of releasing pressure or tension in order to avoid negative consequences. It was first recorded in the mid-1800s and has since become a commonly used idiom in modern English.

In conclusion, the idiom "let off steam" originated from the Industrial Revolution and has evolved to refer to the act of releasing pent-up emotions or frustrations in a healthy manner. It serves as a reminder to prioritize self-care and manage one's emotions in order to maintain overall well-being.