Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A smoked herring having a reddish color.
  • noun Something that draws attention away from the matter being discussed or dealt with.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A smoke-cured and salt-brined herring strong enough to turn the flesh red; a type of kipper.
  • noun figuratively A clue or information that is or is intended to be misleading, that diverts attention from a question.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a first draft of a prospectus; must be clearly marked to indicate that parts may be changed in the final prospectus
  • noun a dried and smoked herring having a reddish color
  • noun any diversion intended to distract attention from the main issue

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Sense 2, probably from the use of smoked herrings to lay scent trails for hounds to follow.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

Examples

    Sorry, no example sentences found.

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