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

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

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

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

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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
When the charmer claims he's told Rita he can't see her again (she actually cancelled him), then refuses payment saying this one is on him, it just fans the flames of Audrey's emotions.
SHAME GAME: An APOEL supporter fans the flames as a fire rages within the stadium
One couple openly professes love, though some are skeptical; the other couple downplays any entanglements, which fans the flames of curiosity.
After beating off stiff competition in the final vote from Spurs supremo Simon Davies, he is today named as the player who fans the flames of our pride.
Alley, professor emeritus of humanities at the University of Richmond (and an Americans United trustee), constructs a convincing case that state-sponsored religious worship in the public schools violates the rights of dissenters, divides communities and fans the flames of bigotry.
A 12 mph wind fans the flames of the brand while intensifying them.