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[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.
Origin of red-handed
Related forms
red-handedness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for red-handed
  • As to the other, unless he be caught red-handed, the chances that the police will ever get him are slim indeed.
  • Who knows, perhaps they will not be caught red-handed at what they have been doing.
  • The only big difference is that he was in the top state executive office and was caught red-handed.
  • Some cops adhered to a gentlemen's code, arresting bootleggers only if they caught them red-handed.
  • Criminals who are caught red-handed often maintain their innocence, even after they are convicted.
  • Unfortunately, as she attempts to steal the needed evidence, she is caught red-handed.
  • Our case may not be the norm, whereas these two were caught red-handed at the scene and also confessed.
  • The subject realized he was caught red-handed with too many lines and unattended lines.
  • If a commanding officer thinks the software is correct, he'll send a patrol ahead of time to catch the criminal red-handed.
  • Each company goes out on a mission and you kick the door down and catch them 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 Forms
red-handedly, adverb
red-handedness, noun
Word Origin
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
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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
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