light a fire under (someone or something)(redirected from light a fire under them)
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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
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.
light a fire under someonemainly AMERICAN
If you light a fire under someone, you force them to act with more energy or to do something better. They need to improve their technical research and light a fire under their marketing team. It's hard to light a fire under people who don't think anything is wrong. Note: There is a story that some American farmers in the early part of the 20th century used to light fires under particularly stubborn mules that were refusing to move, in order to make them do so.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
light a fire under someonestimulate someone to work or act more quickly or enthusiastically. North American
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
light a fire under
To urge or move to action.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.