fan the flames


fan the flames

Meaning | Synonyms

  • make a bad situation even worse
  • say or do something to make someone angrier or more incensed than they already are
  • stir up, create or inflame strong feelings (anger, hate, love)
  • exacerbate or aggravate an explosive reaction
  • cause or incite strong emotions (usually negative but not always)

Example Sentences

  1. The president’s racist comments are really going to fan the flames of hatred among the crowd.
  2. She had fancied Karl for ages, and when he smiled at her, he fanned the flames even more.
  3. The fat cats at the bank get a massive yearly bonus, and it fans the flames of anger amongst the customers who lost money in the crash.
  4. He said this fanned the flames of separatism into a raging fire.
  5. The pandemic has fanned the flames of hate among communities.
  6. Coronavirus outbreak fans the flames of the US-China decoupling debate in Washington.
  7. I believe the political leader is fanning the flames of racial unrest.
  8. All these moves are fanning the flames of popular anger, and it will burst out in a disaster.
  9. Certain politicians are fanning the flames of the mobs to change the government.
  10. He will continue to fan the flames of divisiveness with fear and anxiety.
  11. It is irresponsible to fan the flames of the institutional crisis at a time when the country needs stability.


Taken literally, this idiom/metaphor means to blow air (oxygen) onto the fire to increase the intensity of the flames. Just as the wind makes forest fires worse.

It was used by Dickens in the mid-1800s in The Old Curiosity Shop.

“Fan the sinking flames of hilarity with the wing of friendship…”

Share your opinions1 Opinion

In my childhood, my mother used to cook food on firewood. To ignite the fire she used a fan
and moved it to and fro for a few minutes. Reading the idiom, my late mother’s picture came
to my mind. Might be this custom was prevalent in many parts of the world in old times.

‒ Ramesh Joshi August 10, 2020

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