Caught red-handed

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The term caught red-handed is an idiom that has its roots in Scotland in the 1400s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of the term caught red-handed, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To be caught red-handed means to be caught in the midst of committing a crime or so soon after the commission of a crime that the evidence is overwhelming. Like most idioms, the term was first used in a fairly literal sense. The phrase caught red-handed was first used in Scotland in the 1400s, alluding to apprehending someone whose hands were red with blood from committing a murder or from poaching an animal. Sir Walter Scott is credited with bringing the phrase to a wider audience. Related verb phrases are catch red-handed, catches red-handed, catching red-handed. Note that red-handed is properly rendered with a hyphen.


A BUNGLING thief who was caught red-handed raiding a property in Inverness has been jailed for 15 months at the city’s sheriff court. (The Inverness Courier)

Engineer Durgaduta Kharel of Regional Monitoring and Inspection Office, Surkhet was caught red-handed with Rs 87,000 kick back at a hotel in Chinchu of Bheriganga Municipality in the district, CIAA information officer Meghnath Sapkota informed. (The Kathmandu Post)

Together with his wife, brother-in-law and father-in-law, Chalik headed to the land in question around 10am in the hope of catching red-handed whoever was responsible for the misdeed. (The Borneo Post)

Mario Menezes, who plays the role of Mabel’s rich father, is displeased with her choice of her life partner as he does not trust his son-in-law, Darryl, who he catches red-handed romancing in the park with Sasha. (The Times of India)

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