adverb or adjective

red-hand·​ed ˈred-ˈhan-dəd How to pronounce red-handed (audio)
: in the act of committing a crime or misdeed
caught red-handed

Examples of red-handed in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Quick on her feet, Georgie can be depended on to talk their way out of a bind when they’re caught red-handed. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 18 Sep. 2023 Read more Informant in plot to kill Zelenskyy caught 'red-handed,' Ukraine says An informant who was plotting with Russian agents to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been arrested, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) said Monday. USA TODAY, 8 Aug. 2023 Riverside Police caught him red-handed on bodycam video around 10:45 p.m. on April 12. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, 28 July 2023 While covering up the crime, Ava and Nathan were caught red-handed. Jacqueline Saguin, Good Housekeeping, 24 June 2023 And, of course, the right’s attempts to already peddle theories about Biden stealing an election are dangerous, given so many of their own most prominent figures were caught red-handed trying to overturn the 2020 election. Tori Otten, The New Republic, 9 June 2023 Caught red-handed, Hanssen pleaded guilty to selling thousands of classified documents over the years detailing U.S. strategies for nuclear war as well as counterintelligence information. Corky Siemaszko, NBC News, 5 June 2023 If true, this would mean that Abby Lewber, DJ James Kennedy’s girlfriend and an aspiring astrologer, was indeed the one who caught them red-handed. Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 25 May 2023 Vladimir Putin's own spokesperson claims Evan was caught red-handed. CBS News, 2 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'red-handed.' 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

1819, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of red-handed was in 1819

Dictionary Entries Near red-handed

Cite this Entry

“Red-handed.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


adverb or adjective
: in the act of doing something wrong

More from Merriam-Webster on red-handed

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