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add fuel to the fire

Meaning: If you add fuel to the fire, you do something to make a bad situation even worse.

For example:

  • People are already unhappy, and if the government allows oil prices to increase it'll just be adding fuel to the fire.

  • If Billy's angry, don't say anything. You'll just be adding fuel to the fire.

Origin: Probably metaphorical, from the fact that adding a fuel, like petrol or wood, to a fire will make it burn brighter and hotter.

Quick Quiz:

Our workers are already upset, and you'll just add fuel to the fire if you
  1. give them a bonus
  2. pay for their medical care
  3. cut their wages

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