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.


Nearby words

  1. stipulatory,
  2. stipule,
  3. stipuliform,
  4. stir,
  5. stir up,
  6. stir-crazy,
  7. stir-fried,
  8. stir-fry,
  9. stir-frying,
  10. stir.

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