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red rag

something that arouses anger; a provocation; red flag:
A mere mention of the incident is a red rag to him.
Origin of red rag
First recorded in 1690-1700 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for red rag
Historical Examples
  • Just now the very mention of the highgrader's name was a red rag to his temper.

    The Highgrader William MacLeod Raine
  • In the daytime a red rag is sometimes attached to it, I was told by the carpenter.

    Seek and Find Oliver Optic
  • Drive on, Tom, and here's a red rag to flap at the old thing.

    Little Men Louisa May Alcott
  • Since Culloden the word had been to him as a red rag to a bull.

    A Daughter of Raasay William MacLeod Raine
  • A camp fire to an angry elephant is the equivalent of a red rag to a bull.

    The Pools of Silence H. de Vere Stacpoole
  • He had unconsciously been waiting for that word, than which none was more like a red rag to him.

    The Freelands John Galsworthy
  • He cum an' he go'd; but he kep his red rag to himself, he did.

    The Bishop's Secret

    Fergus Hume
  • To the other side, that bandage was like a red rag to a bull.

  • If the deceased has fallen in battle a red rag is fixed on the pole as well.

    At the Court of the Amr John Alfred Gray
  • You mean he toled them near enough with a red rag to pot-shoot them.

    The Trail Boys on the Plains Jay Winthrop Allen
British Dictionary definitions for red rag

red rag

a provocation; something that infuriates
Word Origin
so called because red objects supposedly infuriate bulls
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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