\ ˈred How to pronounce red (audio) \
redder; reddest

Definition of red

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : of the color red
b : having red as a distinguishing color
2a(1) : flushed especially with anger or embarrassment
(2) : ruddy, florid
(3) : being or having skin of a coppery hue
b : bloodshot eyes red from crying
c : being in the color range between a moderate orange and russet or bay
d : tinged with red : reddish
3 : heated to redness : glowing
4a : inciting or endorsing radical social or political change especially by force
b often capitalized : communist
c often capitalized : of or relating to a communist country and especially to the U.S.S.R.
5 US politics : tending to support Republican candidates or policies Some choices are easy. You're either a dog guy or a cat guy. Red state or blue.— Rick Reilly — compare blue sense 9, purple sense 3
red in tooth and claw
: characterized by or displaying brutal emotion or violent behavior


plural reds

Definition of red (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : a color whose hue resembles that of blood or of the ruby or is that of the long-wave extreme of the visible spectrum
2 : red clothing the lady in red
3 : one that is of a red or reddish color: such as
a : red wine
b : an animal with a red or reddish coat
4a : a pigment or dye that colors red
b : a shade or tint of red
5a : one who advocates the violent overthrow of an existing social or political order
b capitalized : communist
6 [ from the bookkeeping practice of entering debit items in red ink ] : the condition of showing a loss usually used with the in the red — compare black sense 7
7 physics : one of the three colors (see color entry 1 sense 15) that quarks have in the theory of quantum chromodynamics In QCD there is actually not just one type of quark, but three types or "colors" of quarks. These are sometimes denoted as "red," "blue," and "green" quarks …— Edward Witten

Definition of red (Entry 3 of 4)

reduce; reduction


geographical name
\ ˈred How to pronounce Red (audio) \

Definition of Red (Entry 4 of 4)

1 river 1018 miles (1638 kilometers) long flowing east on the Oklahoma–Texas boundary and into the Atchafalaya and Mississippi rivers in Louisiana
2 river in north central U.S. and south central Canada flowing north on the Minnesota–North Dakota boundary and into Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba
3 — see arctic red
4 or Hong \ ˈhȯŋ How to pronounce Hong (audio) \ or (in China) Yuan \ yu̇-​ˈän How to pronounce Yuan (audio) , -​ˈan \ river 500 miles (805 kilometers) long in southeastern Asia rising in central Yunnan, China, and flowing southeast across northern Vietnam into the Gulf of Tonkin

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Examples of red in a Sentence


a shiny red fire truck His face turns red when he gets angry.


The artist uses red to symbolize passion. a lady dressed in red the reds and oranges of autumn leaves
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The state will also illuminate the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven in red, white, and blue lights in recognition of the anniversary. Peter Marteka,, "On the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, South Windsor residents and officials gather to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost," 11 Sep. 2019 Silence fell outside Howard County’s George Howard Building Wednesday morning as bagpipes played and a white wreath with a red, white and blue ribbon was placed at the flagpole. Jess Nocera,, "Howard County reflects and remembers lives lost during 9/11 attacks," 11 Sep. 2019 The new phone will come in six colors, including red, green, and yellow. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Apple iPhone 11: Here’s What It Will Cost and When It Ships," 10 Sep. 2019 Models wore pops of electric red, from a leafy detail on a blouse to a baroque pattern on a dress with billowing sleeves. Washington Post, "Stacey Bendet creates a ‘field of dreams’ at NY fashion week," 10 Sep. 2019 And though this opera’s composer was French, guests heading to the performance were wowed by our majestic City Hall bathed in red, green and white lights of the Italian flag. Catherine Bigelow,, "Symphony & Opera galas pull out all the stops with over-the-top spectacle," 9 Sep. 2019 The collection includes strikes of red, orange, and yellow that relate back to the bright and bold colors or African heritage. Nandi Howard, Essence, "Carmelo Anthony Presents Melo Made Collection 2," 7 Sep. 2019 But the red, white and blue, much like the silver and black, isn’t intimidating opponents like the old days, and that much has been apparent throughout Popovich’s four-plus weeks with the World Cup team so far. Mike Finger,, "Popovich’s summer task might look familiar to Spurs," 5 Sep. 2019 To Ruby, nothing can top a bulky Christmas sweater that his grandmother knitted for him, in the eighties, out of red, green, and white acrylic yarn. Christina Binkley, The New Yorker, "Sterling Ruby’s Mixed Media," 2 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Peer into a coastal canal for up-close views of sharks, and go tide pooling to spot fire-red Sally Lightfoot crabs sunning on the rocks alongside spiky marine iguanas. National Geographic, "Ecuador and the Galápagos Expedition: Biodiversity Hotspot," 10 Sep. 2019 White is typically opposite of yellow, blue is typically opposite green, and red is typically opposite orange. Wired, "How to Solve a Rubik's Cube, Step by Step," 5 Sep. 2019 Wander all over the park, and consider exploring the Narrows, a hike that goes through canyons as tall as 1,000 feet tall and at times only 20 feet wide, and see the stunning reds of Utah. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "The Very Best National Parks You Need to Visit," 5 Sep. 2019 The vintage steel play chairs and stools were painted in distressed red. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "Restoration Hardware recalls flammable robes and lead-tainted kids furniture," 3 Sep. 2019 Their flashy colors range from dark reds to oranges and yellows, to even a shocking purple color. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "Vibrantly Colorful Rainbow Carrots Are the Newest Gardening Trend You'll Want to Hop On This Fall," 19 Aug. 2019 Create an entryway that’s orderly but not too polished, with a color palette inspired by the landscape: dusty reds and a range of blues to capture every shade of the sky, mixed with warm browns. Jessica Dailey, ELLE Decor, "The Ultimate Guide to Infusing a Western-Chic Vibe Into Your Home," 1 Aug. 2019 Meanwhile, 47% of newlyweds who went into wedding debt said that money caused them to contemplate divorce, compared to only 9% of couples who did not go into the red for their big day. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "Survey Finds 45% of Newlyweds Went Into Debt for Their Wedding," 10 July 2019 Meanwhile, the regressive marketing tactics of Victoria’s Secret have knocked it into the red. Sangeeta Singh-kurtz, Quartzy, "Ulta plucked Frida Kahlo’s eyebrow for the artist’s themed makeup kit," 10 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'red.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of red


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for red


Middle English red, rede, reed, going back to Old English rēad, going back to Germanic *rauđa- (whence also Old Frisian rād, rōd "red, yellow," Old Saxon rōd "red," Middle Dutch root, rood, Old High German rōt, Old Norse rauðr, Gothic rauþs), going back to Indo-European *h1rou̯dh-o-, whence also Old Irish rúad "reddish brown, dark red," Welsh rhudd "red, tawny," Latin rūfus (from a dialect or another Italic language, with -f- for expected -b-), Lithuanian raũdas "red-brown, reddish," Russian dialect rúdyj "blood-red," Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian rûd "reddish brown"; from a suffixed zero-grade form *h1rudh-ro-, Old Norse roðra "blood," Latin ruber "red," Tocharian B ratre, Greek erythrós, Sanskrit rudhiráḥ "red, bloody"


Middle English red, reed, derivative of red, reed red entry 1

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Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for red

The first known use of red was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for red



Financial Definition of red

What It Is

Red is slang for loss. Losses are the negative amount remaining after all costs, depreciation, interest, taxes, and other expenses have been deducted from total sales. The formula for profit is:

Total Sales - Total Expenses = Profit

When expenses exceed sales, a company is “in the red.”

How It Works

Here is some information about Company XYZ for last year:

Using the formula and the information above, we can calculate that Company XYZ's profit was:

$1,000,000 - $500,000 - $400,000 - $200,000 - $5,000 + $1,000 = -$104,000

This means that Company XYZ lost $104,000 last year. It was “in the red.”

Why It Matters

Philosophically speaking, being in the red is bad. Being in “the black,” which means a company is profitable, is what motivates industry, entrepreneurship and innovation. It is the very thing that enables people to feed themselves, clothe their families, create jobs and set money aside for the future.

Profit is one of the most analyzed numbers a company can produce, and it plays a part in many other financial measures. It is also important to understand that changes in accounting methods can greatly influence whether a company is in the red, and these changes may have little to do with a company's actual operations.

In the retail industry, companies are often in the red until the fourth quarter, when Christmas shopping begins. This is the source of the term “Black Friday.”

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of red

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having the color of blood
: reddish brown or reddish orange in color
of a person's face : pink because of embarrassment, anger, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of red (Entry 2 of 2)

: the color of blood
somewhat old-fashioned, informal + disapproving : a Communist or someone who supports Communists


\ ˈred How to pronounce red (audio) \
redder; reddest

Kids Definition of red

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of the color of blood : colored red a red light
2 : flushed with emotion (as embarrassment) His face was red.

Other Words from red

redness noun



Kids Definition of red (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the color of blood or of the ruby
2 : something red in color She's wearing red.

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\ ˈred How to pronounce red (audio) \
redder; reddest

Medical Definition of red

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of the color red



Medical Definition of red (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a color whose hue resembles that of blood or of the ruby or is that of the long-wave extreme of the visible spectrum
2 : a pigment or dye that colors red — see congo red, neutral red, vital red

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More from Merriam-Webster on red

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for red

Spanish Central: Translation of red

Nglish: Translation of red for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of red for Arabic Speakers

Comments on red

What made you want to look up red? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to spread over or through

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