Sunday, April 1, 2012

(American) Idioms in RED

All too often, students waste time learning idioms that are outdated and hardly no longer used, so here are 5 idioms that are still regularly used in American English.  Remember that when learning new vocabulary, there is a better chance of retaining information if there is a theme that connects the new words.  Here you have red idioms:


1.  in the red (adv.): negative bank account balance
"My bank account balance has been in the red ever since we went to Las Vegas!"
2.  seeing red (v.): to become violently, uncontrollably angry
"He has a violent temper, and believe me, when he gets mad, he sees red."
3.  paint the town red (v.): to party all night, to enjoy oneself excessively
"We're not staying home again on a Saturday night.  Let's get out of the house and paint the town red!"
4.  red tape (n.): bureaucratic paperwork, government administrative procedures
"Whenever I renew my passport, I also have to deal with the red tape--forms, birth certificates, social security cards...and unresponsive government workers."
5.  to catch somebody red handed (v.): to catch somebody the moment they are committing a crime
"The murderer was caught red handed after the police found him with the victim's blood on the knife he was still clenching.  (to clench (v.) is to hold tightly)
6.  red light district (n.): The most famous red light district is in Amsterdam where prostitution is legal. 

Note: Did you notice connections in the red idioms?  I'm sure you did, and that is the theme of blood (anger, murder, passion) as seen in 'seeing red', 'paint the town red', 'red light district' and 'red handed'.  While nobody knows precisely where 'paint the town red' originated, some claim that the expression started when a bloody riot occurred in England in the mid 1800's that left the town's buildings red with blood. 

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