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Vent one’s spleen

  • Vent one’s spleen is an idiom that is hundreds of years old. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, in the same boat, bite the bullet, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom vent one’s spleen, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    To vent one’s spleen means to air one’s grievances, to make enraged complaints, or to express one’s anger. The idiom vent one’s spleen is related to the idea that different organs of the body are the repositories of different emotions. Most people are familiar with the idea that the heart is the seat of the emotion of love. The spleen has been considered the seat of anger in the human body since medieval times. The idiom vent one’s spleen has been in use since the 1600s. Related phrases are vents one’s spleen, vented one’s spleen, venting one’s spleen.

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    Examples

    There are similar places to vent your spleen in Houston and Toronto, and Anger Room is offering franchises to entrepreneurs who want to open facilities in other cities. (The Kiplinger Newsletter)

    (In all seriousness, if you really did have a holiday nightmare and need to sort it out – not simply vent your spleen – see our guide). (The Telegraph)

    But I don’t think that an award show in front of millions of people is the place to vent your spleen about somebody that you disagree with politically. (The Daily Mail)

    You might want to vent your spleen at the execrable service, but what do you want them to do about it? (The Independent)


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