stir up a hornets' nest

stir up a hornet's nest

1. To create, provoke, or trigger a dangerous, troublesome, or complicated situation. The government's military interventions really just stirred up a hornet's nest in the region.
2. To provoke or instigate a lot of very angry or offended reactions. The politician's off-the-cuff remark about pollution stirred up a hornet's nest among environmentalists.
See also: nest, stir, up

stir up a hornets' nest

Make trouble, cause a commotion, as in Asking for an audit of the treasurer's books stirred up a hornets' nest in the association. This metaphoric term, likening hornets to angry humans, dates from the first half of the 1700s.
See also: nest, stir, up
References in periodicals archive ?
Ferguson reminding Real of a past they would rather forget is likely to stir up a hornets' nest in Spain, but he clearly feels it is time the gloves came off in the fight for Ronaldo.
I KNOW this may stir up a hornets' nest but I still really admire Rooney.