paint the town red

Idioms & Phrases

paint the town red

Go on a spree, as in Whenever they go to New York they want to paint the town red. The precise allusion of this term is disputed. Some believe it refers to setting something on fire; others point to a vague association of the color red with violence. [Late 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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