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.
See also: add, fuel, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 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 ?
Neither Hamas nor Fateh is innocent of adding fuel to the flames of this poisonous verbal sparring.
Adding fuel to the flames has been the decision of the Scottish Executive to increase its support for a similar scheme by pounds 10m on top of the existing pounds 61m.
Adding fuel to the flames, Joan unexpectedly enjoys her own brush with literary success and Bernard's barely concealed jealousy threatens to tear the already fractured family further apart.
By holding such views of foolish liberal idealism they are, in a sense, adding fuel to the flames of fanaticism.
He should be trying to bring them together as neighbouring countries, not adding fuel to the flames.
Adding fuel to the flames was English referee Graham Poll's performance last week in the international between Russia and Slovenia which saw Russia lose out to a hotly disputed penalty.