Caught red-handed

Posted by Gary Martin on May 26, 2007

In Reply to: Caught red-handed posted by Kenneth Anderson on May 26, 2007

: I was told by a teacher that the phrase "caught red-handed" came from medieval times when the king own all the land and nobody was allowed to hunt animals. The king's men could not prove that you had killed the animal unless you had its blood on your hands. Is there any truth to this?

'I was told' usually isn't a promising start to a query. The last 'I was told' that I was mailed before this one (which didn't get through the daftness filter) was an ('absolutely definitely true') account that the word 'pissed' originated because poor peasants couldn't afford alcohol and had to buy and drink the piss of those who could, at a penny a gallon (which also explained 'spend a penny' you understand).

Back to sanity. 'Red-handed' does appear to derive from suspects of crime having blood on their hands. I don't know about the requirement that a suspect had to have bloody hands in order to be proven guilty - that seems fanciful.