What does the idiom "see red" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase see red, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression see red used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "see red"


The idiom “see red” is commonly used to indicate that someone is extremely angry. It implies that a person is so angry, they almost see red. This expression is often used to describe a person who is so angry, they are not thinking logically or clearly, and are likely to act without considering the consequences.


The precise origin of this idiom is unknown, but it is believed to be derived from the notion of seeing a person’s face turning red with anger. This phrase is found in the work of American author Ambrose Bierce and 19th century English poet Robert Southey, implying that the phrase has been in use for many years.


This idiom is most commonly used when describing someone who is very angry. It is often used as a warning to others, to indicate that a person is so angry that they may not be able to control themselves. It can also be used to express sympathy for a person who is very angry and frustrated. For example, if a person was very upset about something, someone might say, “I can see why you’re so angry – I’d be seeing red too if it had happened to me.”

Example Sentences

  • When Tom found out his car had been vandalized, he saw red.
  • I don’t know what happened but I could see he was seeing red.
  • The teacher saw red when she saw that her students had been playing the game instead of doing the work.
  • If someone had done that to me, I’d be seeing red too.

The meanings of the words in the "see red" idiom

The Surprising Origins of Everyday English Idioms

Many English idioms have surprisingly dark origins, often rooted in violence, death, and superstition. For instance, the phrase "raining cats and dogs" is said to have originated in the 17th century, when heavy rain would often cause dead animals to wash up on the streets. Meanwhile, the idiom "rule of thumb" is believed to have originated from a law that allowed men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than their thumb.


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