stir the pot


      • cause trouble
        Encourage conflict or provoke discord within a group or situation

      • instigate
        Provoke or incite trouble or controversy

    Examples of stir the pot

    • John's constant criticism of the new team leader is really stirring the pot in our department meetings.

      This idiom means that John's negative comments are causing tension and disagreement among his colleagues, just as stirring a pot can cause different ingredients to mix and create conflict.

    • Sarah's outspoken opinions on social media have really stirred the pot in our community. People are taking sides and debating fiercely over her views.

      Here, "stirring the pot" refers to Sarah's actions in inciting controversy and debate among people in her community, much like stirring a pot can stir up emotions and create a discussion.

    • As soon as Mark mentioned his idea during the meeting, Elizabeth immediately stirred the pot by disagreeing and presenting opposing views.

      In this example, we see how Elizabeth's disagreement and opposition to Mark's idea is described as "stirring the pot," as it has caused a heated discussion and debate among the team members.

    • The introduction of a new co-worker has really stirred the pot in our tight-knit office. Some people are welcoming her with open arms, while others are resentful and suspicious of her intentions.

      In this example, we see the idiom used to describe how the arrival of a new co-worker has created tension and conflict within the office, much like stirring a pot can cause different ingredients to separate and settle.

    • Julie's new coworker, Max, has been stirring the pot at team meetings by repeatedly bringing up controversial topics and arguing about them, even though it doesn't contribute to finding solutions.

      The idiom "stir the pot" refers to causing trouble or creating controversy by bringing up sensitive issues. In this example, Max's behavior is stirring the pot in team meetings by introducing debates that don't help find solutions, causing tension and disagreements among team members.

    • Whenever there's a celebration at their office, Sarah always finds a way to stir the pot by making snide comments about her coworkers' fashion choices or food preferences, causing awkward silence and discomfort.

      In this example, Sarah's behavior of making snide comments is stirring the pot in a social setting by causing embarrassment and discomfort among her coworkers, ruining the festive mood.

    • During a heated argument with her friend, Maya accidentally stirred the pot by bringing up a sensitive topic that had been resolved previously, causing her friend to become defensive and angry.

      In this example, Maya's act of bringing up a previous argument that had been resolved was stirring the pot by reopening old wounds and creating conflict between her and her friend.

    • In a discussion about a work project, Mark purposefully stirred the pot by presenting conflicting ideas and opinions, causing confusion and division within the team.

      In this example, Mark's behavior of presenting conflicting ideas was stirring the pot by creating confusion and division within the team, making it hard for them to agree on a solution.


    The idiom "stir the pot" is used to describe the act of causing trouble or instigating conflict within a group or situation. It can be used to caution against engaging in such behavior or to describe someone who is intentionally provoking trouble.

    In a more positive context, it can also be used to encourage stirring up discussion or debate in order to bring about change or progress. However, it is most commonly used in a negative sense to warn against causing unnecessary trouble or strife.

    Origin of "stir the pot"

    The origin of the idiom "stir the pot" can be traced back to the literal act of stirring a cooking pot. When ingredients are stirred together, it can create a mixture or blend of flavors. In a metaphorical sense, "stirring the pot" can create a mixture of emotions or conflict within a group or situation.

    The idiom likely originated from this literal action, where stirring the pot can cause ingredients to mix and potentially lead to unexpected results. Over time, it has evolved to describe the act of causing trouble or provoking conflict within a group. The phrase has been used in this figurative sense for many years and has become a common idiom in the English language.