add fuel to the fire

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Related to add fuel to the flames: burst into flames

add fuel to the fire

To do or say something to make an argument, problem, or bad situation worse; to further incense an already angry person or group of people. The debate was going poorly for the senatorial candidate, and his strikingly uncouth comments simply added fuel to the fire. Revelations of the CEO's massive retirement package added fuel to the fire for consumers already furious over the company's dubious financial dealings. Anything the mayor says will just add fuel to the fire, so do not let him speak to reporters about this sensitive issue.
See also: add, fire, fuel, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

add fuel to the fire

 and add fuel to the flame
Fig. to make a problem worse; to say or do something that makes a bad situation worse; to make an angry person get even angrier. (Alludes to causing a flame to grow larger someone or something to move forward when fuel is added.) Shouting at a crying child just adds fuel to the fire.
See also: add, fire, fuel, to
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

add fuel to the fire

Also, add fuel to the flames. Worsen an already bad situation, as by increasing anger, hostility, or passion, as in Bill was upset, and your making fun of his mishap just added fuel to the fire. This metaphor dates from Roman times-Livy used it in his history of Rome-and it remains in common use. For similar metaphors, see add insult to injury; fan the flames.
See also: add, fire, fuel, to
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

add fuel to the fire

or

add fuel to the flames

COMMON If something that someone says or does adds fuel to the fire or adds fuel to the flames, it makes a bad situation worse. You must not try to borrow more money to get yourself out of trouble. This really would be adding fuel to the fire. Her resignation is only likely to add fuel to the flames. Note: These expressions are very variable. For example, you can say that something fuels the fire or fuels the flames, or just that it adds fuel. I'm not going to fuel the fire here: people are perfectly entitled to their own opinion. His comments are bound to add fuel to the debate already taking place within the party about the Greens' public image.
See also: add, fire, fuel, to
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

add fuel to the fire (or flames)

(of a person or circumstance) cause a situation or conflict to become more intense, especially by provocative comments.
See also: add, fire, fuel, to
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

add ˌfuel to the ˈfire/ˈflames

do or say something which makes a difficult situation worse, or makes somebody even more angry, etc: She was already furious and his apologies and excuses only added fuel to the flames. OPPOSITE: pour oil on troubled water(s)
See also: add, fire, flame, fuel, to
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

add fuel to the fire/flames, to

To exacerbate an already inflammatory situation, increasing anger or hostility. The Roman historian Livy used this turn of phrase (in Latin) nearly two thousand years ago, and it was repeated (in English) by numerous writers thereafter, among them John Milton (Samson Agonistes, 1671): “He’s gone, and who knows how he may report thy words by adding fuel to the flame.”
See also: add, fire, fuel, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
China Mobile is to release the closely-watched 3G Ophone next week, while rival China Unicom is to bring Apple's iPhone to China as soon as Friday, which may add fuel to the flames in the fiercely competitive Chinese market.
The marking of this occasion is bound to add fuel to the flames of the ongoing fire of the "right to return" for Palestinian refugees.
To add fuel to the flames, as it were, I believe the original pattern had a strong resemblance to one variant of the Coch a bonddu which Twm Twm, the great fly-dresser of the upper Wye, dressed.
At a time when the justice system is coming under fire by a public concerned that it is 'too soft' this latest revelation will simply add fuel to the flames.
Mind you, the written media add fuel to the flames. When a jockey is killed, as they all too frequently are, you rarely see it reported outside the racing section.
And he is especially concerned that the current unrest has resulted in members of his family being contacted by the media, despite their unwillingness to add fuel to the flames.
Did Netanyahu's reaction add fuel to the flames of antagonism?
And to add fuel to the flames, Chelsea chairman Ken Bates, Hoddle's former boss at Stamford Bridge, has written to FA chairman Keith Wiseman demanding to be told why such an 'underachieving' coach deserves an improved contract.
To add fuel to the flames of hot rumour, crew members were banned from taking cameras on to the set.