Turn Up The Heat: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 21, 2023

"Turn up the heat" literally means to increase the temperature, usually by adjusting a heating device. However, this phrase is often used figuratively. It can mean increasing pressure, intensity, or the degree of activity in a situation. For instance, if someone is trying to achieve a goal, you might say they need to "turn up the heat" to imply they need to work harder or put in more effort.

In short:

  • It can mean to increase the temperature.
  • Figuratively, it often means to increase pressure or intensity in a situation.

What Does "Turn Up the Heat" Mean?

The phrase “turn up the heat” has several meanings. It can mean increasing the temperature by adjusting a heater or stove. It also refers to increasing pressure, intensity, or activity. For example, a coach might tell their team to "turn up the heat" during a game to motivate them to play harder.

Let's dive into its core meanings and usage:

  • "Turn up the heat" can mean increasing the temperature on a heater.
  • It can also mean increasing pressure or intensity in a situation.
  • The phrase suggests a need for more effort or action. It is often used when someone needs to push harder or be more aggressive to achieve a goal.
  • It can be used in various contexts, such as sports, business, or personal goals.
  • For instance, "After hearing what he said, they decided to turn up the heat in the debate."
  • Similar phrases include "step up the game," "raise the bar," "increase the pressure," and "intensify efforts."

Where Does "Turn Up the Heat" Come From?

The phrase "turn up the heat" comes from the literal action of increasing the temperature on a heater or stove. However, it has evolved into a metaphorical phrase that describes intensifying efforts or increasing pressure in various situations. It is a common phrase in English-speaking countries and is used in many different contexts, from sports to business.

Historical Example

"Don't turn up the heat. This doesn't help much and it overheats some rooms."

-The Energy Conservation Act of 1976

10 Examples of "Turn Up the Heat" in Sentences

To give you a better idea of how to use this phrase, let's explore some examples from various scenarios:

  • When they turned up the heat in the competition, my jaw dropped in surprise.
  • She was able to fill the gap in her resume by turning up the heat on her skills and taking online courses.
  • His performance was on par with the best, but he wanted to turn up the heat and surpass them all.
  • As the negotiations weren't progressing, the company decided to turn up the heat by adding more pressure.
  • When the party was getting dull, the DJ decided to turn up the heat with some energetic music.
  • They were under a time crunch, so they had to turn up the heat and work faster and harder.
  • To improve sales, the business owner decided to turn up the heat on their marketing efforts.
  • Life can be tough, but sometimes, you have to turn up the heat and face your challenges head-on.
  • As the charity event was not receiving enough donations, the organizers decided to turn up the heat on their fundraising campaign.
  • He wanted to surprise his wife, so he turned up the heat at home and prepared a romantic candlelight dinner.

Examples of "Turn Up the Heat" in Pop Culture

The phrase often appears in pop culture, usually signifying the intensification of efforts or raising stakes.

Let's explore some instances:

  • The phrase is used in an article on Forbes.com, "Young Climate Activists Turn Up the Heat on Keir Starmer."
  • CTV News published an article titled "Global Protest Seeks to Turn Up the Heat on Leaders Over Climate."
  • National Geographic Society has an article titled "Turn Up the Heat," which discusses some of the oddest volcanoes on Earth.
  • "Beyond The Zone Turn Up The Heat Protection Spray" is available on Amazon, providing hair protection before heat styling.
  • The song "Hotter" by the band Gentleman's Dub Club has the lyrics: "I'm feeling hotter, a whole lot hotter / Turning up the heat 'cause when we drop it down, we drop it down proper / Hotter, it just gets hotter,"
  •  "Turn Up the Heat" is the title of Reggae Roast's debut album.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Turn Up the Heat"

Various other expressions convey a similar meaning to "turn up the heat."

Here are some of them:

  • Intensify the effort
  • Raise the stakes
  • Step up the game
  • Push harder
  • Put the pedal to the metal
  • Throw down the gauntlet
  • Go all out
  • Give it your all
  • Up the ante
  • Go the extra mile

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Turn Up the Heat":

  • What does "turn up the heat" mean?

"Turn up the heat" is an idiom that means to increase the intensity or pressure in a situation. It implies that someone is making a situation more challenging or demanding.

  • How can I use "turn up the heat" in a sentence?

You can use "turn up the heat" in a sentence to express the increase in intensity or pressure. For instance, "She carved a niche for herself in the industry by turning up the heat on her creativity and innovation."

  • Where does the idiom "turn up the heat" come from?

The phrase "turn up the heat" originally refers to increasing the temperature on a stove or heater, but it has been metaphorically extended to mean increasing pressure or intensity in various contexts.

  • Is "turn up the heat" used more in sports?

While "turn up the heat" can be used in a sports context to denote increasing efforts or intensity, it's also widely used in other scenarios like business, politics, or any situation where pressure or intensity can be increased.

  • Can it refer to emotional situations?

Yes, "turn up the heat" can be used in emotional situations to describe escalating tensions or intensifying emotions.

  • Is it used in positive or negative contexts?

"Turn up the heat" can be used in both positive and negative contexts, depending on the situation. It may denote positive efforts like increased enthusiasm in a project or negative pressures like escalating conflicts.

  • What is its significance in the business world?

In the business world, "turn up the heat" often denotes increasing efforts or pressure to achieve specific goals or targets, such as increasing sales or meeting deadlines.

  • Does it imply a crisis?

Not necessarily. While "turn up the heat" can be used to refer to crisis situations where pressure or tension is increasing, it can also refer to situations where efforts are being intensified in a positive or neutral context.

  • Can it be used in casual conversation?

Yes, "turn up the heat" can be used in casual conversations to express the idea of increasing effort or intensity in a situation.

  • Are there other phrases with similar meanings?

Yes, there are several phrases with similar meanings, such as "raise the stakes", "step up the game", "go all out", "up the ante", and "go the extra mile".

Final Thoughts About "Turn Up the Heat"

The idiom "turn up the heat" is a versatile idiom that communicates the idea of intensifying efforts, increasing pressure, or raising stakes in a situation. It's used across a variety of contexts, from sports to business to casual conversations, demonstrating its adaptability.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Turn up the heat" conveys the idea of amplifying intensity or pressure in a situation.
  • The phrase can be used in positive and negative contexts, highlighting increased effort or escalating pressure.
  • It's a common phrase used across various scenarios, from sports to business to personal challenges.
  • While it doesn't imply a crisis, it often denotes challenging or demanding situations requiring an increase in effort or pressure.

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