twist the lion's tail

twist the lion's tail

To provoke someone (especially a country) who could prove to be a powerful enemy. Originally used in reference to the United Kingdom, the royal coat of arms of which features a lion. The president's advisors warned against twisting the lion's tail, but he mocked and threatened the turbulent nation in his speech nonetheless.
See also: tail, twist

twist the lion's tail

provoke the resentment of the British. US
See also: tail, twist