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

  • n. A financial loss in business.
  • n. The condition of showing a fiscal deficit: a firm drowning in red ink.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A euphemism for financial loss.

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

  • n. the amount by which the cost of a business exceeds its revenue


From the use of red ink to record debits and losses in financial records.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • The victor dropped a tear over his grave: his body, with royal pomp, was conveyed to the mausoleum which he had erected at Boursa; and his son Mousa, after receiving a rich present of gold and jewels, of horses and arms, was invested by a patent in red ink with the kingdom of Anatolia.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • Meanwhile, speaking of hoodoo, she had some red ink to turn black.

    La insistencia de Jürgen Fauth

  • Something more than a life-size portrait of her, clothed in a masculine-looking sweater, with a basket-ball under her arm, appeared in a New York evening paper, and scareheads three inches high announced in red ink that the champion athlete and most popular society girl in college was at death's door, owing to injuries received in basket-ball.

    When Patty Went to College

  • Reckoned from the time when we left soundings, our speed was such that the captain drew the line of his course in red ink on his chart, for the encouragement or envy of future navigators.

    English Traits (1856)

  • Then when everybody's had their go-in we'll write every single thing down in the Golden Deed book, and we'll draw two lines in red ink at the bottom, like father does at the end of an account.

    The Wouldbegoods

  • It had evidently gone astray somehow, and that very evening the mystery was explained, for the postman brought it – a very travel-worn letter indeed, with two or three scrawls across it in red ink – "Missent to Whitehurst," "Try Whitefield," etc., etc.

    "Carrots": Just a Little Boy


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