Posted by ESC on January 15, 2001
In Reply to: Origin of phrase posted by silvana sumner on January 15, 2001
: : the school have asked my daughter to find the origin of the phrase ' caught red-handed ' please can you help?
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.