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red-flagged; red-flagging; red-flags

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

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plural red flags
: 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
see also red flag law

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
Alabama’s eventual 17-3 win was less of a rallying cry following the Texas loss and more of an epilogue: Alabama is still better than most teams, but there are major red flags. Nick Alvarez |, al, 17 Sep. 2023 Although they got married at the end of season two, the After the Altar special displayed some of the couple’s worst red flags, including a conflicting baby timeline and Iyanna moving out. Charlotte Walsh, Vulture, 6 Sep. 2023 No red flags Smith, who said Pelkey's violence left her disabled, said their courtship was also brief. Tim Stelloh, NBC News, 6 Sep. 2023 As the risks and red flags continue to accumulate around their shared future, the duo agree on a desperate plan to burglarize a wealthy housewife. Todd Gilchrist, Variety, 3 Sep. 2023 Sperm analysis tests are great for understanding sperm quality, quantity, and motility to identify potential red flags. Lindsay Modglin, Health, 1 Sep. 2023 Fatigue can compromise the flexor tendon, which is why a flexor strain sets off red flags and, in some cases, be a precursor to a torn UCL. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 31 Aug. 2023 Christian's open, friendly personality has been escalating from discomfort to red flag to Cleo, who has autism, as the pair have grown closer. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 28 Aug. 2023 Baltimore Police will soon track officer behaviors, such as uses of force or arrests, to look for red flags in need of correction or assistance. Darcy Costello, Baltimore Sun, 6 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'red-flag.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1962, in the meaning defined above


1748, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of red-flag was in 1748

Dictionary Entries Near red-flag

Cite this Entry

“Red-flag.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Last Updated: - Definition revised
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