add fuel to the fire

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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.
See also: add, fire, fuel
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 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
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
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
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
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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
The policy adds fuel to the fire of an extremely dangerous situation."
His attack adds fuel to the fire in the debate over whether video referees should be introduced pitch-side to assist the man in the middle.