Student or Learner
"Venting about your abusive boss"
Usually it's "vent something on somebody". What would "vent about" mean here?
Last edited by ostap77; 29-Sep-2010 at 12:53.
Grammatically speaking, it's ugly I agree, but it's an increasingly common use of the verb.
I've seen vent being used without an object more and more over the last couple of years, as an all-purpose intransitive verb meaning to release some kind of feelings (usually anger).
From that it's a very small logical step to "vent to/at" which is used to describe pouring out said feelings to someone, usually not the object of those feelings, and is subtly different from "venting on" where you are directly impacting that person; the former is more like "ranting to get it off your chest" whereas the latter is more like "taking it out on" someone. Am I making sense?
"My boss was driving me crazy, so I spent all lunchtime venting to my friends (about him)."
"My boss was driving me crazy so when I got home I ended up venting on my husband and we ended up having a huge row."
I don't like it very much, and I still would avoid using it in formal written English, but I hear it all the time, especially among younger people, and I've even used it myself in conversation a time or two. I would guess it's arisen as so often the emotion being vented can be worked out from the context so actually mentioning it becomes obsolete.
Thanks for your post, Tullia. It was very clear, however I had no idea that vent was so commonly used. I had always thought that vent to and the various other forms were used mainly by mental health professionals.
No doubt someone better informed will come along and correct me, and it'll actually turn out to be ancient, but I tend to think it's a fairly recent development to use it in this way so widely. As I said, I tend to hear it a lot among younger people.
Your point about mental health professionals is interesting - I think a lot of jargon from those kind of professions is becoming far more common nowadays, as depression is losing its stigma and the media are becoming far more interested in such things, and many terms formerly the preserve of the specialist are becoming common parlance - think of the plethora (and I use that word intentionally) of acronyms and abbreviations and names of conditions that get bandied around that we hadn't really heard of even twenty years ago - ADHD, OCD, BPD, bipolar depression, dyscalculia... and I could go on. Maybe this is indeed from where the use of "vent" in this way is moving into general usage?