Add Fuel to the Fire

Echarle leña al fuego


  • Meaning: 

To make a bad situation worse by saying o doing something that does not help to fix the situation but instead,  it just helps to make the problem bigger.


  • Origin:

Livy, a famous Roman writer was the first to use this expression. The logics behind this expression is simple: If you pour water on a fire, this will go out. However, if instead of  water, you pour fuel (e.g. coal, wood, oil, petrol, gas, etc) on that fire, the only thing you will get is to  make that combustion brighter and hotter. If we speak in a metaphorical way and we correlate fire with a problem, then we can say that anything that makes that piece of trouble worse is «fuel».  A synonym to this expression is «To fan the flames.»


  • How to use it:

John: «Why are you so serious, Mike?»

Mike: «My girlfriend is really mad because I forgot that yesterday was her birthday.»

John: «Did she ask you why you didn´t go to see her?»

Mike: «Yeah, and trying to make her happy I told her that I was taking Tango lessons with Caroline because I know that she would like me to invite to dance together one day.»

John: «Did she feel much better then?»

Mike: «Oh no, she got really mad because according to her, Caroline has a crush on me. But I didn´t know anything about that.»

John: «So, she was angry because you forgot her birthday and then you made the problem worse by telling her you spent the day dancing Tango with Caroline.»

Mike: «Yeah. I wanted to give her a surprise and I just added fuel to the fire.»

Add fuel to the fire: Google images, «,r:6,s:0,i:89»


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About felipevelazquezmarines

I am an English teacher willing to share knowledge and experiences with all my students and friends.

One response to “Add Fuel to the Fire”

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