[ red-han-did ]
See synonyms for red-handed on
adjective, adverb
  1. 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.

Origin of red-handed

First recorded in 1810–20

Other words from red-handed

  • red-hand·ed·ness, noun

Words Nearby red-handed Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use red-handed in a sentence

  • The son miraculously escaped these red-handed reprisals; and Hamilcar's faithful slave smuggled him aboard ship for Athens.

    Snnica | Vicente Blasco Ibez
  • Here was Elaine, caught red-handed in the commission of all three of these stupendous crimes.

    A Forgotten Hero | Emily Sarah Holt
  • Maunders himself was too much of a coward to steal, too politic not to realize the disadvantage in being caught red-handed.

British Dictionary definitions for red-handed


  1. (postpositive) in the act of committing a crime or doing something wrong or shameful (esp in the phrase catch red-handed)

Origin of red-handed

C19 (earlier, C15 red hand)

Derived forms of red-handed

  • red-handedly, adverb
  • red-handedness, noun

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