light a fire under

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

The origin of the phrase came from when chimney sweeps were scared to go up the chimneys, the fire would be lit under them in order to motivate them to climb to the top.

Verb[edit]

light a fire under (someone)

  1. (idiomatic) To motivate or encourage (someone) to start sooner or move faster.
    Let me see if I can light a fire under the waiter to get our order sooner.