add fuel to the flame(s)

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add fuel to the flame(s)

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 flames. Revelations of the CEO's massive retirement package added fuel to the flame for consumers already furious over the company's dubious financial dealings. Anything the mayor says will just add fuel to the flames, so do not let him speak to reporters about this sensitive issue.
See also: add, fuel, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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 ?
On the contrary: the reception accorded to the Murderer and the victory speech of the Mastermind of Murder only added fuel to the flames of fury, hatred and humiliation.
MANY serious golf punters have long held the theory that a player's form will improve in the months immediately after he has become a father - it is often labelled as the 'nappy factor' - and Sam Little added fuel to the flames with his gutsy card-saving effort in the Mallorca Classic.
However, the rumoured relationship did coincide with his break-up from dance partner and girlfriend Camilla Dallerup, who had been at his side for eight years, and that probably added fuel to the flames.
Leeds skipper Dominic Matteo added fuel to the flames when he said: "If Mark had hit Hessenthaler, he would have killed him.
That the boys' killer has been paid by author Gitta Sereny for her co- ope ration has added fuel to the flames of anger, drawing strong criticism from the Prime Minister in the Commons yesterday.
"Regional pay has added fuel to the flames of our members' anger...
Llewellyn, an ever-present in the Dragons' league line-up since he moved from Norwich in the summer of 2003, said Wrexham's financial problems had probably added fuel to the flames.
``All this fuss could have been avoided but McLeish's outburst has only added fuel to the flames which this fixture does not need.''