fan the flames

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fan the flames

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 fanned the flames. Revelations of the CEO's massive retirement package fanned the flames for consumers already furious over the company's dubious financial dealings.
See also: fan, flame
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

fan the flames (of something)

Fig. to make something more intense; to make a situation worse. The riot fanned the flames of racial hatred even more. The hostility in the school is bad enough without anyone fanning the flames.
See also: fan, flame
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

fan the flames

Intensify or stir up feelings; exacerbate an explosive situation. For example, She already found him attractive, but his letters really fanned the flames, or His speech fanned the flames of racial dissension.
See also: fan, flame
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.

fan the flames

COMMON If something that someone says or does fans the flames, it makes a bad situation worse. There are several specific and new issues that are fanning the flames in this dispute. Lee's latest film, based on the life of Malcolm X, is set to fan the flames of controversy even higher. Compare with add fuel to the fire. Note: To fan flames means to make them burn more strongly by waving a fan or other flat object next to them.
See also: fan, flame
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

fan the ˈflames (of something)

make a feeling such as anger, hatred, etc. worse: His writings fanned the flames of racism.
See also: fan, flame
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

fan the flames, to

To exacerbate an already inflammable situation, or to revive a flagging situation. The fact that wind stirs up a fire has, of course, been known since ancient times, but the precise metaphor here, with its alliterative lilt, is considerably newer. Dickens used it in The Old Curiosity Shop (1840): “Fan the sinking flame of hilarity with the wing of friendship.”
See also: fan, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
"Thanks to @SheriffClayCo for airing out a wanted person's dirty laundry and fanning the flames. The Liberty Police Department was surprised to see this incident slip out, which stinks for the arrestee.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera had accused Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of fanning the flames of hatred.
The tinder-dry landscape and winds fanning the flames have created the perfect storm.
You risk turning people into martyrs" Labour MP David Lammy blasted: "Our pound-shop Donald Trump is fanning the flames of Islamophobia to propel his grubby electoral ambitions."
The situation is becoming exceedingly difficult due to strong winds fanning the flames. Efforts are made to prevent the fire, which broke out at around 2pm, from reaching farms in the area.
Fanning the flames of speculations on a possible romantic reconciliation, it seems that Carlo Aquino and Angelica Panganiban could not help but send kilig vibes to their fans, especially on Valentine's Day.
But he said the US was making it clear to Iran that "obviously fanning the flames or contributing to it by any party is not welcome to us".
To the above-mentioned, stop fanning the flames of racial hatred.
Anti-Semitism Burning Bright in Turkey After Israeli Attacks on Gaza (and the Government is Fanning the Flames) With threats of violence toward Jews in Turkey made on Twitter and stoning of Israel's consulate, Gaza is reigniting the antisemitic flames in Turkey.
State Department, Jennifer Bsaki said at a news conference, in Washington, regarding Al-Malki's offensive against the Kingdom is clearly hostile and inaccurate, accusing Al-Malki on fanning the flames of sectarianism in Iraq.
Strong winds made the situation worse by fanning the flames.
Without naming any country directly, he accused Sunni Arab leaders of "fanning the flames" of sectarian violence.
Strong winds have been fanning the flames on moors above Cold Edge Road, Wainstalls, since Saturday, West Yorkshire Fire Service said.
Yedinak's experiments often focus on two important factors that cause a wildfire to spread: the speed and direction of the winds that are fanning the flames and the slope of the terrain across which the fire is spreading.