Red Letter Day

Also spelled red-letter day.

Meaning of Idiom ‘Red Letter Day’

A red letter day is a day that is special, happy, pleasant, etc.; a day that is remembered fondly; a pleasurable or significant special occassion. 1Ayto, John.  Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms]. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.,2Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms]. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.,3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Usage

This idiom can be used to describe any day that one remembers as being particularly happy or pleasant or any day that is a special occasion. Although the expression is usually reserved for happy events, it is sometimes used to refer to any significant event, especially one with historical impact.

 

Examples Of Use

“The last day of school before summer vacation is a red-letter day for the students.”

“The assassination of President Kennedy was a red letter day for America.”

“When I am able to quit my job and become a professional writer, that will be a red-letter day.”

Meaning of idiom red letter day

Origin

This idiom comes from the practice, in the medieval period, of marking secial days, such as religious festivals, holidays, or saints’ days, in red ink on ecclesiastical church calenders, while all other days were marked in black. This practice was first approved by the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. Later, judges on the Queen’s Bench wore special red robes on red-letter days. 4Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms]. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.,5Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013., 6Ayto, John.  Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms]. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

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Sources   [ + ]

1, 6. Ayto, John.  Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms]. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
2, 4. Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms]. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.
3, 5. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.