\ ˈred-ˈflag How to pronounce red-flag (audio) \
red-flagged; red-flagging; red-flags

Definition of red-flag

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to identify or draw attention to (a problem or issue to be dealt with) Those who voice the most displeasure in their marriage, are more likely to complain about their partner's weight, Newport adds, which may help counselors red-flag weakening relationships before it's too late.— Matthew J. Cravatta Drug testing, detailed questions about previous employment history, and criminal-record checks go a long way toward red-flagging risks.— Anne Fisher We met, we got along great, and I [Spike Lee] told her, "Not only do I want you to work with the actors, but I want you to look at this script. I am a man, and I know there's going to be stuff in there that's strictly from a male viewpoint—I want you to red-flag that stuff."— Anne Stockwell

red flag

plural red flags

Definition of red flag (Entry 2 of 2)

: a warning signal or sign A high body-mass index is a red flag in general to clinicians. But sudden, unexplained weight loss can be even more worrisome.— Melinda Beck : something that indicates or draws attention to a problem, danger, or irregularity Interested large investors often send in their own CPAs to conduct complete audits to verify statements or to spot red flags, such as excessively old inventory or uncollectible accounts receivable.Inc. Whether you're dating a potential gold digger or are surrounded by friends who are constantly asking for handouts, you'll want to protect your money from those kinds of drains. Watch out for red flags such as dishonesty, secrecy around money matters and requests to co-sign a loan.— Kimberly Palmer Though Kearse did not take legal possession of the car until Jan. 4, 1999, after his eligibility had expired, the purchase raised red flags. [=aroused suspicions of wrongdoing]— L. Jon Wertheim

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Examples of red-flag in a Sentence

Noun Gaps in your employment history are red flags to employers. the résumé she accidentally left on the office printer was a red flag that she was planning to quit
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The National Weather Service stopped short of issuing a red flag warning because the fuels, such as grass and leaves, are dry but not excessively dry. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, "Soaring temperatures meet gusty winds in SoCal, elevating fire risk," 31 Mar. 2021 Though the beach was open, the ocean was marked with a double red flag warning, meaning that the waters were off limits due to dangerous conditions, the Herald reported. Joelle Goldstein,, "Media Executive and Dad of 3 Dies After Saving Kids from Rip Current on Family Vacation: 'A Hero'," 30 Mar. 2021 The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for extreme fire risk for much of western Minnesota on Monday. Mara Klecker, Star Tribune, "Low humidity and wind combine for fire danger in Minnesota on Monday," 29 Mar. 2021 The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook and a red flag warning and wind advisory on Sunday. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Rare New Jersey wildfire burns 170 acres, leaving firefighter in critical condition," 15 Mar. 2021 Northern New Mexico and parts of Colorado have had a red flag warning in place for the past several days, so winds were gusting out of the southwest at 60-70 mph at times. Jennifer Gray, CNN, "Mexican dust found in Colorado blizzard," 15 Mar. 2021 The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for much of Arizona on Wednesday morning as gusty winds, low humidity and high temperatures present possible fire conditions. Connor Van Ligten, The Arizona Republic, "National Weather Service issues red flag warning for much of Arizona," 4 Mar. 2021 The most recent previous red flag warning was in January 2014. Kellie Hwang,, "Is fire season now a year-round reality? Experts weigh in on extreme Bay Area weather," 21 Jan. 2021 The combination of these factors prompted a red flag warning of critical fire danger for the mountain and valley regions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, "Flip-flops in January? High temperatures meet strong winds in SoCal, sparking fire warnings," 14 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'red-flag.' 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-flag


1962, in the meaning defined above


1748, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for red-flag

Time Traveler

The first known use of red-flag was in 1748

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Cite this Entry

“Red-flag.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for red-flag

red flag


English Language Learners Definition of red flag

: a warning sign : a sign that there is a problem that should be noticed or dealt with

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