stir up a hornets' nest
Make trouble, cause a commotion, as in Asking for an audit of the treasurer's books stirred up a hornets' nest in the association. This metaphoric term, likening hornets to angry humans, dates from the first half of the 1700s.
They Call It Puppy Love And Other Animal-inspired PhrasesWe often attribute emotions and other human characteristics to animals. This is called anthropomorphism . Similarly, we also describe people using animal characteristics. You might, for example, say my teenage son “eats like a horse,” meaning he’s a growing boy and consumes a lot of food. This is called zoomorphism . Zoomorphism also includes assigning animal-like qualities to gods and inanimate objects. The term comes from …
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.