What verb would you recommend with 'interest' to mean "increase" so that it sounds idiomatic? Like 'fuel' or 'intensify'. As in

The pandemic [verb] the people's interest in epidemiology.

  • If it's a sudden increase from zero or close-to-zero, then I'd say "sparked". Nov 16, 2020 at 22:50
  • @CanadianYankee What if it's from a non-zero point? Nov 17, 2020 at 4:21
  • Weekdays wrong with "increased"?
    – The Photon
    Nov 17, 2020 at 5:42
  • I wonder about the reverse of "increase".
    – user119042
    Nov 17, 2020 at 10:46

2 Answers 2


Consider removing the words "the people's" altogether. Such as "His new book has spurred (a) great interest in the topic". "the people's" is already implied.

"fueled" and "intensified" are good choices. Here are some other examples:

The pandemic has kindled a renewed interest in epidemiology among the general public.

The problem with "renewed" and "intensified" is that it suggests there was interest to start with. If starting from nothing:

The pandemic has sparked a new-found interest in epidemiology among the general public.

Wordhippo shows about a hundred alternatives for "sparked" . Many of them are not precisely right for this context. Other suggestions include: fostered, inspired, stirred, triggered, roused.


As Canadian Yankee said, you can use 'sparked' when starting from ground-up.

For starting from an preexisting point, you might consider using:

  • The pandemic boosted the people's interest in epidemiology.

Boost is to help or encourage (something) to increase or improve. This certainly sounds the most idiomatic in this case, since pandemic is what encouraged people to learn/study/research about epidemiology.

  • The pandemic amplified the people's interest in epidemiology.

Amplifying is increasing the already existing conditions, like how the sound is amplified using a sound amplifier.

  • The pandemic escalated the people's interest in epidemiology.

Similar to intensify, escalate would denote a significantly rapid increase, which might sound weird in this case. But nonetheless, it is a possibility.

  • The pandemic surged the people's interest in epidemiology.

Surging (verb) is increasing suddenly and powerfully. I don't know whether someone's interest in something can be powerful or not(?).

Also, there is nothing wrong in using the verbs you suggested on your own, like 'fuel' or 'intensify'.

  • those are colorful interesting verb choices and they make sense to the reader. However, you would probably not find any of those sentences in a US newspaper.
    – Sam
    Nov 17, 2020 at 13:54
  • @Sam I am not a native speaker, but these are some of the words I use when talking to my classmates or during an academic session. Hence I wrote the answer. Though I read New York Times, I haven't quite noticed the usage very distinctly. If the OP is looking for native choices, they surely can go for your answer or someone else's. I will keep my answer as it may help some other user, just in case. Nov 17, 2020 at 14:03

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