vent or ventilate

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Tempers flared and passions were aroused in the week of the Liberal Party change of leadership, so many people were admitting to ventilating their anger in the process. This is understandable. We become incandescent with rage so what we need is a nice flow of fresh air to cool our anger.

 The original meaning of the verb to vent was ‘to provide (a liquor cask) with an opening so that the gas can escape’. From this we arrived at the figurative use, to give expression to our pent-up emotions., with the notion that this is a salutary process in terms of our own sanity. Comparatively recently we turned to the intransitive use, so that I can say I am venting, and you will know that I am pouring out my feelings, usually of anger or indignation, to get them out of my system.

Despite the existence of this modern option of venting, politicians generally chose to ventilate their feelings instead. In this they are not alone. There are a number of instances of ventilating anger on the internet but not so many that it would not be possible to fight for the continued use of venting and not make the switch to ventilating. Let’s fight the good fight on this one.