American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- adv. In the act of committing something wrong.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- With red or bloody hands; hence, in the very act, as if with red or bloody hands: said originally of a person taken in the act of homicide, but extended figuratively to one caught in the perpetration of any crime: generally in the phrase to be taken red-handed.
- adj. With clear evidence of guilt.
- adj. in the act of committing a crime or other reprehensible act
- adv. doing something reprehensible or showing clear evidence of having done something reprehensible
- To be taken with red hand in ancient times was to be caught in the act, like a murderer with his hands red with his victim's blood. The use of red hand in this sense goes back to 15th-century Scotland and Scottish law. Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (1819) contains the first recorded use of taken red-handed for someone apprehended in the act of committing a crime. The expression subsequently became more common as caught red-handed. (Wiktionary)
- Earlier red-hand, with the hands red (from blood). (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“Mr. Lipson opened his mouth to put in the caviar and stopped midbite as though I had caught him red-handed, eating my peers.”
“She caught students red-handed with their parts entwined frequently, and the rest of the student body talked about sex as if it was just as normal as attending a baseball game or playing video games.”
“And thanks for the French translations ... next time a customs official catches me red-handed with mon coupe menstruelle I'll know what to say!!”
“November 28th, 2009 6: 58 pm ET this is the biggest pay-2-play political scam ever .... and Newt was caught red-handed with his hand in the cookie jar .... who's next?”
“They were caught red-handed mucking up the "proof.”
“In a case of media behaving badly, the UK's News of the World--a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the US's Fox News--ceased publication after being caught red-handed in an embarrassing scandal.”
“Many times it is ridiculous that a case even gets as far as a trial, because the accused was caught red-handed and is sure to be found guilty anyway.”
“These are his handpicked minions who got caught red-handed last week.”
“Even when caught red-handed by naval forces, 80% of pirates are released again to attack, Mr. Westgarth adds, citing figures compiled by the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, or Intertanko.”
“In 2007 Comcast was caught red-handed blocking people seeking to share files using the popular BitTorrent platform.”
These user-created lists contain the word ‘red-handed’.
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...
For a more comprehensive list, see Hernesheir's Handy Words.
For trivet's wonderful list of handy compounds, see handie.
amber words is the term I use for words that are all but fossilized, in the sense that their use is always in the context of a single expression. Examples include caboodle, dudgeon, umbrage
Words and short phrases with colour names in them
Inspired by hernesheir's Greens list.
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