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red line

Ice Hockey. a line of the color red that is parallel to and equidistant from the goal lines and divides the rink in half.
a limit, point, or boundary beyond which one may not go without incurring negative consequences:
The use of chemical weapons is a red line, which, if crossed, could trigger military action.
Origin of red line


or red-line

[v. red-lahyn; n. red-lahyn] /v. ˈrɛdˌlaɪn; n. ˈrɛdˈlaɪn/
verb (used with object), redlined, redlining.
to treat by redlining (an area or neighborhood).
to establish the recommended safe speed of (an airplane):
The bomber is redlined at 650 miles an hour.
to draw a canceling red line through (an item on a list).
to mark or designate for cancellation, rejection, dismissal, or the like:
club members redlined for unpaid dues.
to cause (an airplane) to be grounded.
verb (used without object), redlined, redlining.
to engage in redlining.
  1. the maximum rotational speed, or angular velocity, of the engine crankshaft that is considered safe: often measured in rpm.
  2. a red line or boundary of a red area that delineates such a value, as on a tachometer.
1940-45; red1 + line1
Related forms
redliner, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for red line

red line

a point beyond which a person or group is not prepared to negotiate


verb (transitive)
(esp of a bank or group of banks) to refuse a loan to (a person or country) because of the presumed risks involved
to restrict people's access to goods or services on the basis of the area in which they live
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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Word Origin and History for red line



also red-line, "mark in red ink," 1820, from red (adj.1) + line (v.). Specific sense of "deny loans to certain neighborhoods based on ethnicity" is from 1973, on notion of lines drawn on maps. Used earlier in reference to insurance company practices (1961) and in World War II military slang in reference to a red line drawn through a soldier's name for some infraction, thus denying his pay. Related: Redlined; redlining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for red line



  1. To cross a soldier's name off the payroll for some wrongdoing (WWII Army)
  2. : aimed at preventing redlining, the practice of denying loans to entire neighborhoods based on the predominant race or economic class of their residents (1973+)
  3. To achieve maximum speed; push the dial up to the red line: He had the car redlined (1990s+)
  4. : Comparerite also does what's called ''redlining,'' which allows you to add notes and comments that won't become part of the final document but can be seen by the next reader (Computers)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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