Stir up a hornets’ nest and stir up a hornet’s nest

Stir up a hornets’ nest and stir up a hornet’s nest are two versions of an an idiom that came into use in the latter half of the eighteenth century. We will examine the meaning of the idiom stir up a hornets’ nest or stir up a hornet’s nest, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To stir up a hornets’ nest or to stir up a hornet’s nest means to make trouble, to provoke, to make someone angry, to cause a problem. To stir up a hornets’ nest or to stir up a hornet’s nest means to create an unpleasant situation. The term hornet’s nest is also used by itself to mean a dangerous, unpleasant, or complicated situation fraught with difficulties. A hornet is known to be an insect that is easily agitated, and may sting with little provocation. The hornet’s sting is particularly painful. If one stirs a hornets’ nest, the insects will pour out to defend their home and sting the perpetrator unmercifully. Hornets are a type of large wasp, and may sting repeatedly. They do not die upon stinging a prey. Hornets build nests from chewed tree bark. The idiom stir up a hornets’ nest or stir up a hornet’s nest came into use in the mid-1700s. Both spellings are correct, but the Oxford English Dictionary uses the stir up a hornets’ nest spelling. Related phrases are stirs up a hornets’ nest or stirs up a hornet’s nest, stirred up a hornets’ nest or stirred up a hornet’s nest, stirring up a hornets’ nest stirring up a hornet’s nest.

Examples

The U.S. system is a hornets’ nest of cannibalism, with dairies getting increasing larger with fewer producers, he said. (The Capital Press)

But the bishop stepped into a social media hornets’ nest after he cited another media-savvy public intellectual, Jordan Peterson, among “signs of hope” for engaging America’s “nones”—that millennial cohort of the religiously unaffiliated, whom Bishop Barron called the “second greatest crisis” facing the church. (American Magazine)

“They get snarled up in that hornet’s nest because one of the best ways to threaten a partner is to threaten the children,” she said. (The Appleton Post Crescent)

That bill stirred a hornet’s nest, especially among the Valley’s Newa community. (The Nepali Times)

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