Fan the flames is an idiom that has been in use for several hundred years. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase fan the flames, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.
To fan the flames means to agitate a situation, to make a bad situation worse, to make someone who is angry or aggravated even more angry or aggravated, to encourage hostility, to make a bad situation even more volatile. The imagery is of someone fanning a fire in order to cause the flames to leap up and create an inferno. The idiom fan the flames came into use in the mid-1700s, related phrases are fans the flames, fanned the flames, fanning the flames.
In short, unlike many other critics who rage against a problem and then hardly rise from their armchairs but to fan the flames of the ensuing argument, Gioia rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. (America Magazine)
Black argued in the rehearing petition that the woman “sought to further fan the flames of animosity” in their communications and “actively participated in the continuation of the relationship.” (The Tallahassee Democrat)
The intelligence wing of the Delhi Police has issued a fresh advisory to the district police on law and order situation in the city after they detected distribution of inflammatory pamphlets in certain pockets of the city as it could fan the flames, said a senior police officer on Wednesday. (The Hindu)
Want to know more idioms? Check out some others we covered: