\ 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
a : red wine
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 the in 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 Red (audio) \ or (in China) Yuan \ yu̇-​ˈän How to pronounce Red (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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The red-hot Washington Wizards won again, extending their lead over the Bulls for the No. 10 seed and final spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament to three games with nine remaining. Jamal Collier,, "The Chicago Bulls lose 108-98 to the Milwaukee Bucks as their NBA play-in hopes continue to fade and Zach LaVine remains sidelined," 1 May 2021 The field also has Circle City, winner of the Golden State Derby last year, plus red-hot horses Up Is Up and Redneck Ryan. John Cherwa Special Contributor, Los Angeles Times, "Horse racing newsletter: Jon White’s final Kentucky Derby rankings," 30 Apr. 2021 The red-hot mobile video app has named Shouzi Chew, the CFO of parent company ByteDance, as its new CEO. Alex Weprin, Billboard, "TikTok's New CEO: ByteDance Exec Shouzi Chew," 30 Apr. 2021 In the early years of his reign, during the hydrocarbon boom that ended with the 2008 global financial crisis, Russia’s economy was red-hot, growing, on average, by close to 7%. Ian Bremmer, Time, "Why Putin Flexed His Military Muscle on Ukraine’s Border," 29 Apr. 2021 The inopportune fouls, along with a pair of costly turnovers in the final two minutes and red-hot shooting from Hardaway, helped the Mavericks close the game with a 14-3 run and win, 115-105. Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, "Youthful mistakes cost the Detroit Pistons vs. Mavericks, but provide lessons as well," 29 Apr. 2021 The challenge of this project is to maximize the affordable units and replacement housing for Cabrini residents in the core of the city where the housing market is red-hot. Jennifer Castenson, Forbes, "Fluid Spaces Are The Future Of Better Housing And Community," 28 Apr. 2021 Meanwhile, Kerry’s latest moment under the red-hot lights comes as Republicans are also trying to keep Biden from returning the U.S. to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. al, "John Kerry denies telling Iran about Israel’s military operations," 27 Apr. 2021 Picking right up where red-hot Wong left off, Tyrone Taylor made the most out of his first career start atop the lineup. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers 5, Marlins 4: Tyrone Taylor proves to be a great fit in the leadoff spot," 27 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But three years later, girl in red — once again — takes off. Wolfgang Ruth, Vulture, "7 Influences on girl in red’s Debut, From (Yes) Taylor Swift to a Serious Lack of Serotonin," 30 Apr. 2021 The Martina dress in red was entirely handmade in 15 days by a female artisan in Oaxaca, Mexico. Sara Holzman, Marie Claire, "Carolina Kleinman Invites You into Her Universe," 30 Apr. 2021 Amazon shoppers can nab the Apple Watch Series 6 40mm with GPS-only in red for $299. Melissa Lee, USA TODAY, "The Apple Watch Series 6 is on sale for the lowest price we've ever seen," 28 Apr. 2021 Those that offer both are coded below in green, those that require an excuse to available at all, are coded in red. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "List: Georgia among 'easiest' states to vote in, better than Delaware and New York," 12 Apr. 2021 Figuring out how to keep that magic alive in a year with so much loss has taken a little more creativity than usual for the man in red. Maggie Menderski, The Courier-Journal, "We called Santa's workshop. Here's what he said about spreading cheer, not germs, in 2020," 6 Apr. 2021 Bedford-Stuyvesant got a grade of D and was shaded in red on the government’s maps, a signal for lenders to stay away. Justin Davidson, Curbed, "MoMA’s First Show on Race and Architecture Chooses Lofty Ideas Over Pragmatism," 2 Apr. 2021 The evolution of the pot is shown for each of the six possible card orders for four-card decks, with the final amount shown in red. Quanta Magazine, "Finding Zen in the Art of Puzzle Solving," 26 Mar. 2021 The name of the candidate omitted in the Voter Guide is highlighted in red to emphasize the scrivener’s error., "Elgin News Digest: Elgin Township candidate’s name left out of voter guide; canoeists saved by man and sons on Bartlett lake; Underwood holding meeting Friday on restaurant help," 25 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

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"

Note: The Modern English form reflects shortening of Middle English ę̄ (long open e), found in other monosyllabic words ending in a voiced dental stop (compare dead entry 1, head entry 1, shred entry 1); as with shred, this change took place early enough to be reflected in early Modern English spelling (unlike dead and head). The surnames Read, Reade, etc., may preserve the long vowel.


Middle English red, reed, derivative of red, reed red entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about red

Time Traveler for red

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for red

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Red.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for red



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

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

Comments on red

What made you want to look up red? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!