light a fire under


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Related to light a fire under: alight

light a fire under (someone or something)

To motivate someone or something to take action. The deadline really lit a fire under us—we never would have gotten all that work done otherwise. Something must have lit a fire under Jenna—she has really started taking her schoolwork seriously.
See also: fire, light

light a fire under

Also, build a fire under. Urge or goad to action, as in If we don't light a fire under that committee, they'll never do any work. This hyperbolic colloquialism uses light in the sense of "ignite," a usage dating from the mid-1100s.
See also: fire, light

light a fire under

To urge or move to action.
See also: fire, light