\ 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
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 thein 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

Adjective a shiny red fire truck His face turns red when he gets angry. Noun 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 Since this process is more intense, the downtime is longer, meaning the skin is red or brown for up to a week until a crust forms over the face. Julie Ricevuto, Allure, "The Science of Beauty: Acids for Skin Care Ingredient Guide," 19 Nov. 2020 All Bay Area counties in the Metro Area are rated purple except Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo— all of which are red. Mitch Stephens, SFChronicle.com, "Coronavirus once again imperils already altered high school sports seasons," 17 Nov. 2020 Georgia, which is normally reliably red, hadn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Senate Republicans tap Karl Rove to oversee GOP fundraising for Georgia runoffs," 16 Nov. 2020 Symptoms include a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and eyes that are red and watery, according to the CDC. Colleen Stinchcombe, SELF, "Measles Infections Are Skyrocketing Because of Low Vaccination Rates," 13 Nov. 2020 Though Michigan will be in the orange, Illinois' neighbors Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa are all red as the Midwest grapples with a grueling autumn wave of the virus. Alice Yin, chicagotribune.com, "Michigan added to Chicago’s revamped travel order — with new exceptions for travelers to avoid quarantine," 10 Nov. 2020 If Biden says the blue sky is red, the media must call it out. Brian Stelter, CNN, "Biden aide: The president-elect knows the media's job is to 'hold him accountable'," 8 Nov. 2020 In the rural parts of the state that are deep red, Trump did even better than in 2016. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "What the Democrats can learn from Biden’s narrow win in Pennsylvania," 7 Nov. 2020 Witnesses also told police Burnett was going at least 70 mph — possibly racing with a BMW and that the light was red. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Driver charged in triple-fatal crash at North 27th and West Locust streets," 5 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The European bourses were in the red at the open with the Europe Stoxx 600 down 0.8% at the open. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "The vaccine rally is on pause, even slowing Bitcoin’s march," 19 Nov. 2020 As of Thursday evening, 94 of Kentucky’s 120 counties were listed in the red. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "JCPS sticks with plan to allow high school football teams to compete in playoffs," 13 Nov. 2020 With 41 cases in the seven-day window among 115,241 residents, Carlsbad remains in the red with a local case rate of 5.1. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego County reports single-day coronavirus case record," 12 Nov. 2020 Steel’s win takes back one of several seats that the California GOP lost in the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats made big gains in O.C. and other red-leaning areas. Stephanie Lai, Los Angeles Times, "Republicans push back the 2018 ‘blue wave’ in Orange County," 11 Nov. 2020 The Northern Kentucky counties of Boone, Campbell, Grant, Kenton and Pendleton are all listed as being in the red, meaning the most critical status, by Kentucky's COVID-19 website. Chris Mayhew, The Enquirer, "KY doctor: 'We are about to do things that I fear will supercharge this pandemic'," 9 Nov. 2020 But many Democrats, who entered Tuesday widely expecting to win a Senate majority, were disappointed by a series of losses in red-leaning states. Lev Facher, STAT, "Biden’s ready to start his pandemic response immediately," 7 Nov. 2020 But NuStar ended the quarter in the red after paying off a $500 million loan that the company secured in the spring to make it through the pandemic. Diego Mendoza-moyers, ExpressNews.com, "NuStar reports 3Q loss, but recovery in oil industry appears underway," 5 Nov. 2020 Queen Creek isn't alone: Neighboring districts including Higley and Gilbert are also in the red. Lily Altavena, The Arizona Republic, "Rise in COVID-19 cases in Arizona puts more school districts in the 'red zone'," 5 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for red

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for red

Last Updated

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Red.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/red. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for red

How to pronounce Red (audio)

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.
\ 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

Nglish: Translation of red for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of red for Arabic Speakers

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