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. © 2015 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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