light a fire under

Also, build a fire under. Urge or goad to action, as in If we don't light a fire under that committee, they'll never do any work. This hyperbolic colloquialism uses light in the sense of “ignite,” a usage dating from the mid-1100s.


Nearby words

  1. ligeance,
  2. liger,
  3. ligeti,
  4. ligeti, györgy,
  5. light,
  6. light adaptation,
  7. light air,
  8. light armored vehicle,
  9. light artillery,
  10. light as a feather

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.