light the (blue) touch paper

light the (blue) touch paper

To do something that instigates or initiates some intense or widespread action or reaction. (Touch paper is a strip of paper treated with potassium nitrate that is used as a fuse for explosives.) Primarily heard in UK. Their goal late in the first half seemed to light the blue touch paper for the team—they've shown much more energy and aggression on the pitch since then. The proposed law has lit the touch paper for activists, who have been gathering people and resources to protest it en masse.
See also: light, paper, touch
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

light the blue touch paper


light the touch paper

If someone lights the blue touch paper or lights the touch paper, they do or say something which causes people to react in an angry or violent way. This kind of remark is guaranteed to light the blue touch paper with some Labour politicians. Tension between them had been building up for weeks. All it took was Mason to light the touch paper and stand back. Note: The touch paper on a firework is a small piece of dark blue paper attached to one end. When it is lit, it burns slowly until it sets off the firework.
See also: blue, light, paper, touch
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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