Caught Red-Handed

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Also: Catch Red-Handed

Meaning of Idiom 'Caught Red-Handed'

To be caught red-handed means to be caught while doing something wrong or illegal; to be caught committing a crime with all the evidence available. 1,2


"She was caught red-handed while shoplifting."

"I tried to cheat on an important exam once, but I was caught red-handed by my teacher."

"The mayor was caught red-handed misappropriating funds."

"There is no point arresting him now," said the detective. "We have to catch him red-handed."

caught red-handed idiom
caught red-handed idiom


Used since at least the 1880's.

This idiom originally alluded to blood found on a murderer's hands but was later generalized to refer to any crime or wrongdoing. 2

1. Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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