\ 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 Lindsay My first kiss was with a guy named Earl (this now strikes me as a red flag, but hindsight is 20/20). Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "7 Worst Kiss Stories," 12 Feb. 2020 Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said this week at baseball’s winter meetings that red flags in a potential free agent or trade acquisition’s background, depending on their degree, could be disqualifying. Jon Meoli,, "Orioles’ Mike Elias: Character issues could rule out possible acquisitions; MLB announces drug, draft changes," 12 Dec. 2019 Further Reading Unvaccinated Samoans should identify themselves with red flags, officials say In the latest update on the measles outbreak, Samoan officials report 4,357 cases and 63 deaths. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Leading anti-vaxxer jailed as measles death toll rises to 63 in Samoa," 6 Dec. 2019 Vikings’ coach Mike Zimmer throws the red flag, challenging the ruling of a fumble. oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks hang on -barely - to defeat the Minnesota Vikings: Live updates recap, score, stats and more (Monday Night Football)," 2 Dec. 2019 Plemper says additional toxicity tests in animals have not thrown up any red flags, and the first trials of EIDD-2801 in humans are likely to start next spring. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "New drug forces flu virus into ‘error catastrophe,’ overwhelming it with mutations," 23 Oct. 2019 Beach safety officials flew the red flag, warning of high surf and strong currents. Lisa Maria Garza,, "Man drowns after caught in rip current at Ormond Beach, officials say," 12 Oct. 2019 An email request for a wire transfer to a new contact (or to an old contact at a new address) is a big red flag. Leah Napoliello, Houston Chronicle, "BBB on Homes: Real estate scam targeting home buyers," 5 Oct. 2019 Those include limiting handgun purchases to once a month; universal background checks on gun purchases; and a red flag bill that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others. Washington Post, "Virginia Senate blocks another Northam-backed gun bill," 3 Feb. 2020

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

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The first known use of red-flag was in 1748

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Cite this Entry

“Red-flag.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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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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