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  1. an opening, as in a wall, serving as an outlet for air, smoke, fumes, or the like.
  2. an opening at the earth's surface from which volcanic material, as lava, steam, or gas, is emitted.
  3. Zoology. the anal or excretory opening of animals, especially of those below mammals, as birds and reptiles.
  4. the small opening at the breech of a gun by which fire is communicated to the charge.
  5. a means of exit or escape; an outlet, as from confinement.
  6. expression; utterance; release: to give vent to one's emotions.
  7. Obsolete. the act or fact of venting; emission or discharge.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to give free play or expression to (an emotion, passion, etc.): to vent rage.
  2. to give public utterance to: to vent one's opinions.
  3. to relieve by giving expression to something: He vented his disappointment by criticizing his successor.
  4. to release or discharge (liquid, smoke, etc.).
  5. to furnish or provide with a vent or vents.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to be relieved of pressure or discharged by means of a vent.
  2. (of an otter or other animal) to rise to the surface of the water to breathe.
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Origin of vent1

1350–1400; (v.) Middle English venten to furnish (a vessel) with a vent, by aphesis < Old French esventer (es- ex1 + -venter, verbal derivative of vent < Latin ventus wind1), in later use derivative of the E noun; (noun) partly < French vent (< Latin ventus), partly by aphesis < French évent (Old French esvent, derivative of esventer), partly derivative of the E v.
Related formsvent·less, adjectiveun·vent·ed, adjective


  1. a slit in the back or side of a coat, jacket, or other garment, at the bottom part of a seam.
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Origin of vent2

1400–50; late Middle English vente; replacing Middle English fente < Middle French, derivative of fendre to slit < Latin findere to split
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for vent


  1. a small opening for the passage or escape of fumes, liquids, etc
  2. the shaft of a volcano or an aperture in the earth's crust through which lava and gases erupt
  3. the external opening of the urinary or genital systems of lower vertebrates
  4. a small aperture at the breech of old guns through which the charge was ignited
  5. an exit, escape, or passage
  6. give vent to to release (an emotion, passion, idea, etc) in an utterance or outburst
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verb (mainly tr)
  1. to release or give expression or utterance to (an emotion, idea, etc)he vents his anger on his wife
  2. to provide a vent for or make vents in
  3. to let out (steam, liquid, etc) through a vent
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Derived Formsventer, nounventless, adjective

Word Origin

C14: from Old French esventer to blow out, from ex- 1 + venter, from Vulgar Latin ventāre (unattested) to be windy, from Latin ventus wind


  1. a vertical slit at the back or both sides of a jacket
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  1. (tr) to make a vent or vents in (a jacket)
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Word Origin

C15: from Old French fente slit, from fendre to split, from Latin findere to cleave
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

Word Origin and History for vent


late 14c., "emit from a confined space," probably a shortening of Old French eventer "let out, expose to air," from Vulgar Latin *exventare, from Latin ex- "out" + ventus "wind" (see wind (n.1)). Sense of "express freely" first recorded 1590s. Sense of "divulge, publish" (1590s) is behind phrase vent one's spleen (see spleen). Related: Vented; venting.

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"hole, opening, outlet," 1560s, from vent (v.). Meaning "action of venting" is recorded from 1550s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

vent in Medicine


  1. An opening into a cavity or canal, especially one through which contents are discharged.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

vent in Science


  1. An opening, and the conduit leading to it, in the side or at the top of a volcano, permitting the escape of fumes, a liquid, a gas, or steam.
    1. The excretory opening of the digestive tract in animals such as birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Also called cloaca
    2. See cloaca.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with vent


In addition to the idiom beginning with vent

  • vent one's spleen

also see:

  • give vent to
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.