verb (used with object), red-light·ed, red-light·ing.

Informal. to stop or deter by means of or as if with a red light.

Origin of red-light

First recorded in 1895–1900

red light


a red lamp, used as a traffic signal to mean “stop.”
an order or directive to halt an action, project, etc.: There's a red light on all unnecessary expenses.
a children's running game in which players must stop when “Red light!” is called.
a signal of danger; warning.

Origin of red light

First recorded in 1840–50 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for red-light

Contemporary Examples of red-light

Historical Examples of red-light

  • It buys no votes and it makes no canvass in the red-light districts.

    Labor and Freedom

    Eugene V. Debs

  • The "stockade" was famous among the red-light institutions of the country.

    Abroad at Home

    Julian Street

  • You turn your red-light and hold everything that comes along.

    Danger Signals

    John A. Hill and Jasper Ewing Brady

  • I would start in at once to elevate, purify, and depopulate the red-light district.

    Mark Twain's Speeches

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • Vice required more alluring quarters than these for profitable pursuit of its red-light trade.

    The Easiest Way

    Eugene Walter and Arthur Hornblow

British Dictionary definitions for red-light

red light


a signal to stop, esp a red traffic signal in a system of traffic lights
a danger signal
an instruction to stop or discontinue
  1. a red lamp in a window of or outside a house indicating that it is a brothel
  2. (as modifier)a red-light district
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