American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A smoked herring having a reddish color.
- n. Something that draws attention away from the central issue.
- n. A smoke-cured and salt-brined herring strong enough to turn the flesh red; a type of kipper.
- n. figuratively A clue or information that is or is intended to be misleading, that diverts attention from a question.
GNU Webster's 1913
- adj. the common herring dried and smoked.
- n. a first draft of a prospectus; must be clearly marked to indicate that parts may be changed in the final prospectus
- n. a dried and smoked herring having a reddish color
- n. any diversion intended to distract attention from the main issue
- Until 2008, the accepted etymology of the idiom was that red herring were used to train dogs to track scents. This has proven to be a false etymology. (Wiktionary)
- From its use to distract hunting dogs from the trail. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“They were the most tireless old bores you ever struck, red herring worshippers to a man, asking nothing from me beyond an occasional nod and an instruction to my babu to make a note of that point.”
“‘Well, so then I was with the Grand Duke,’ explained Leo, drawing a red herring across this painful reflection, ‘and trying to get him to let my wife leave San Juan with us the next day; and Mr Cockrill and Mr Cecil appeared and told us what had happened up on the tower.”
“The Mailman's time lag is a very real thing, not a red herring at all.”
These user-created lists contain the word ‘red herring’.
The bad news: There are possibly tens of thousands of colour collocations in English. The good news is that the pictures retrieved by Wordnik from flickr will probably match the terms this time.
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how red is used
bushy red mint, California red scale, dark red silver ore, down the red lane, Florida red scale, in red, in the red, in (the) red row, Knights of the Re..., light red silver ore, old red lammas, on red and 764 more...
how herring is used
as thin as a herring, Battle of (the) H..., black herring, branch herring, California herring, crake herring, every herring sho..., fall herring, fat herring, freshwater herring, garvie-herring, herring and 52 more...
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