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For a history paper, my argument is that the American Frontier acted as a sort of pressure relief valve for Colonial dissidents who did not agree with Puritan theology. What is a more appropriate word or term for pressure relief valve?

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closed as not a real question by MετάEd, Hugo, tchrist, Mitch, Lynn Nov 26 '12 at 2:31

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

But what they call The Great Migration was Puritans heading for the new land because they weren't happy with their circumstances and treatment in England. – FumbleFingers Nov 24 '12 at 1:23
@FumbleFingers: I think the O.P. is referring to an exodus of folks from those original colonies to what we call the "Old West" or "Wild West", beginning in the early 1800s. – J.R. Nov 24 '12 at 1:26
@J.R.: oic. American history's not my strong suit! – FumbleFingers Nov 24 '12 at 1:31
No close votes needed I think. Frankly, I see a good question here, but fail to find the right answer to offer. Should come back if I find any luck. – Kris Nov 24 '12 at 8:25
Voting to close because I have no idea what you mean by "more appropriate" term. There's nothing obviously wrong with just saying "release valve" so without knowing what you find distasteful about it, it's hard to offer any alternatives. – Lynn Nov 26 '12 at 2:31

How about diversion (since the pressure was diverted by the Frontier) or distraction, or respite (if it was only a temporary relief)?

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You could say that the dissidents sought "solace" from the Puritans in the American Frontier.

sol·ace n. 1. Comfort in sorrow, misfortune, or distress; consolation. 2. A source of comfort or consolation.

If these dissidents felt oppressed by religious dogma, solace works well.

To use a verb, you could say that westward expansion into the American Frontier "alleviated" the pressure colonial dissidents felt in a largely puritanical society.

al·le·vi·ate verb (used with object) 1. to make easier to endure; lessen; mitigate: to alleviate sorrow; to alleviate pain.

To be perfectly honest, though, I think a "pressure release valve" is a perfectly acceptable metaphor to explain Westward Expansion--it's not overly casual and requires no great leaps in logic.

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The safe haven of the Wild West? – Edwin Ashworth Nov 25 '12 at 15:54

The idiomatic phrase in my experience is safety valve.

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