Posted by James Briggs on October 14, 2004
In Reply to: I thought it was *flag* posted by Brian from Shawnee on October 14, 2004
: : : : : Where does the saying 'like a red rag to a bull' come from?
: : : : The color red is supposed to enrage bulls. Actually it's probably the waving of the rag that attracts the bull's attention. I believe a bull is suppose to be color blind. Anyone know?
: : : I heard that too. The capes that matadors use in bullfighting are red and that's where the phrase comes from.
: : Bulls are certainly colour blind - which can be seen from the structure of their eyes, it is not merely a guess. It is the flapping movement which would attract a bull's attention (though in bull fighting, having had the 'pics' stuck into its shoulders first probably don't improve its temper very much either!)
: I thought it was "like a red *flag* to a bull". I'd never heard the word "rag" used in this phrase.
It's rag as far as I'm concerned - I've never heard 'flag.
Incidentally, a brief newspaper report a week or so ago described what happened when a bull escaped and got into a Scottish china shop. The animal was apparently confused, very quiet and was eventually led away having produced no damage whatsoever!