set by the ears

set (someone) by the ears

To cause (someone, generally a group of two or more people) to engage in a squabble, dispute, or altercation. The entire town was set by the ears when it was announced that a giant megastore would be replacing many of its local shops and grocery marts. Jake likes to set his classmates by the ears as a means of getting attention.
See also: ear, set

set by the ears

cause people to quarrel.
See also: ear, set
References in classic literature ?
How many years he went on worrying the tribunals of his country to turn out the Duke in possession, and to put himself in the Duke's place--how many lawyer's purses he filled to bursting, and how many otherwise harmless people he set by the ears together disputing whether he was right or wrong-- is more by a great deal than I can reckon up.