Idiom:  stir the pot

An image of a girl in a witch's outfit stirring liquid in a cauldron. Caption: "My sister is such a witch. She constantly tries to stir the pot to cause problems for me with my parents."


Idiom:  stir the pot

  • To deliberately try to make a situation or people more tense and upset.
  • To unnecessarily create trouble or drama, often to get a reaction from someone.

Note:  Imagine a large pot of soup or stew that is filled with different vegetables, pieces of meat and beans.  If the soup is cool, many of the chunky ingredients will rest at the bottom of the pot.  However, when you stir the pot with a spoon, the vegetables, beans and meat pieces become mixed with the liquid again. This idiom describes how someone intentionally brings issues up to the surface and usually it's used to describe a negative influence on something.

Example sentences

— My old girlfriend was always trying to stir the pot and I really hated the drama.

— I look fat in these jeans? Wow, you're really trying to stir the pot.

— Please don't invite the marketing director to this meeting. He's very critical and always tries to stir the pot.

— My father is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but he enjoys arguing with people against the vaccine simply because he likes stirring the pot.

— I think President Trump's goal is to the stir the pot every single day on Twitter.

— My daughter loves to gossip and never misses an opportunity to stir the pot.

— Listen, I don't want to stir the pot but I overheard the director raising concerns about your proposal.

— I recommend you ask people to submit questions in advance to avoid Seth stirring the pot during Q&A.

— I doubt there is a problem in their relationship. Their PR representative is probably pretending to stir the pot for publicity.

— I was grateful my wife smiled and laughed at dinner instead of reacting every time my mother attempted to stir the pot.

— Believe me, when we release this data, it's really going to stir the pot.

— I had to block Sharon on Twitter today because she always stirs the pot whenever I post anything. It will probably make things worse but I didn't know what else to do.


  • be/get up to no good
  • make trouble
  • stir up trouble / stir things up
  • cause a commotion
  • cause a fuss
  • sow dissension
  • cause a rift
  • ruffle someone's feathers
  • rattle someone's cage
  • get under someone's skin

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