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Fan the flames

  • Fan the flames is an idiom that has been in use for several hundred years. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase, or phrasal verbs that have a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. These figures of speech often use descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often colloquialisms or descriptors that are spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase or expression that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, bite the bullet, beat a dead horse, hit the nail on the head, kicked the bucket, blow off steam, jump on the bandwagon, piece of cake, hit the sack, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. It is possible to memorize a list of idioms, but it may be easier to pay attention to the use of idioms in everyday speech, where peculiar imagery will tell you that the expressions should not be taken literally. 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.

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    Examples

    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)


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