Mother says fishes comes from hard roes, so I chuck'd in the roe of a red-herring last week, but I doesn't catch any fish yet.
The man asked for a red-herring, which was forthwith given to him.
Ginger in turn unfolded from its manifold wrappings a red-herring.
After that the Rabbi was what the congregation called Remorse; also red-herring.
"It is what they call a herring, a red-herring, my lady," responded Wilton.
Yes,” replied his master, fixing his little grey eye sternly on him, “the red-herring.
The reason why Snarleyyow did not die was simply this, that he did not eat the red-herring.
He then brought out his bag, set up his supporters, fixed it close to the hatch, and put the red-herring inside of it.
But Snarleyyow had not forgotten the red-herring; so in revenge he first bit Smallbones in the thigh, and then obeyed his master.
The next morning Vanslyperken did not fail to order the red-herring for his breakfast, but took good care not to eat it.
"smoked herring" early 15c. (they turn red when cured), as opposed to white herring "fresh herring." Supposedly used by fugitives to put bloodhounds off their scent (1680s), hence metaphoric sense (1864) of "something used to divert attention from the basic issue;" earlier simply "a false lead":
Though I have not the honour of being one of those sagacious country gentlemen, who have so long vociferated for the American war, who have so long run on the red-herring scent of American taxation before they found out there was no game on foot; (etc.) [Parliamentary speech dated March 20, 1782, reprinted in "Beauties of the British Senate," London, 1786]
In argument, something designed to divert an opponent's attention from the central issue. If a herring is dragged across a trail that hounds are following, it throws them off the scent.
Something used to divert attention from the real issue or matter: All this talk of deficits is just a red herring
[1884+; fr the use of a dead red herring to confuse or test the scent of hunting dogs, found by 1686]