[ red-han-did ]
/ ˈrɛdˈhæn dɪd /

adjective, adverb

in the very act of a crime, wrongdoing, etc., or in possession of self-incriminating evidence: They caught him red-handed dipping into the till.

Nearby words

  1. red-eye gravy,
  2. red-eyed vireo,
  3. red-faced,
  4. red-figure,
  5. red-flag,
  6. red-headed,
  7. red-headed woodpecker,
  8. red-hot,
  9. red-hot poker,
  10. red-lead ore

Origin of red-handed

First recorded in 1810–20

Related formsred-hand·ed·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for red-handed

British Dictionary definitions for red-handed



(postpositive) in the act of committing a crime or doing something wrong or shameful (esp in the phrase catch red-handed)
Derived Formsred-handedly, adverbred-handedness, noun

Word Origin for red-handed

C19 (earlier, C15 red hand)

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

Word Origin and History for red-handed



1781, earlier red-hand (early 15c.), originally in Scottish legal writing, from red (adj.1) + hand (n.), presumably from the image of a murderer caught in the act, with blood-stained hands.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper