phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Red-handed

Posted by ESC on September 03, 2001

In Reply to: Meaning of old phrases posted by Gloria on September 03, 2001

: What is the meaning of to be caught red-handed?

CAUGHT RED-HANDED - "'To be taken with red hand' in ancient times was to be caught in the act, like a murderer, 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. Scott's 'Ivanhoe' has the first recorded use of 'taken red-handed' for someone apprehended in the act of committing a crime. Not long after, the expression became more common as 'caught red-handed.'" From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997), Page 135-136.

For more discussion, search the archives under "red-handed."