pour oil on troubled water

pour oil on troubled water(s)

Fig. to calm someone or something down. (A thin layer of oil will actually calm a small area of a rough sea.) Don can calm things down. He's good at pouring oil on troubled waters. Alice is very good at pouring oil on troubled water.
See also: oil, on, pour, trouble, water

pour oil on troubled ˈwater(s)

try to settle a disagreement or dispute; take action which will calm a tense or dangerous situation: He was always having rows with his son and his wife’s attempts to pour oil on troubled water usually made things worse.There’s going to be big trouble unless somebody pours oil on troubled waters fast. OPPOSITE: add fuel to the fire/flamesSailors used to pour oil on a rough sea to calm the water in order to make a sea rescue easier.
See also: oil, on, pour, trouble, water
References in periodicals archive ?
I suspect that Rhodri Morgan does have spin doctors and special advisers who can pour oil on troubled waters - if he didn't then I doubt Mr Mitchell's letter would have been printed
Thus people who actively seek to create right relationships in society, who heal breaches and pour oil on troubled waters, they are the ones who are doing God's work.