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make the dust fly

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Also, make the feathers or fur fly. Stir matters up, cause a commotion or disturbance. For example, When she saw the dog sleeping on her new bedspread, she really made the dust fly, or As soon as he learns who dented his car, he'll make the feathers fly, or She'd better not interfere or he'll make the fur fly. The first usage alludes to the results of a vigorous house-cleaning effort. The two variants, both dating from the early 1800s, allude to what happens when a hunting dog is set on a bird or rabbit.

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

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