Red Flag (Idiom) Definition, meaning with Examples.

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What does a red flag (idiom) mean?

The Idiom “Red flag” is often used to signify danger. “Red flag,” as a Noun, is a warning of danger. For example, “His actions raised a red flag”. By saying this, the speaker is telling the listener that the man in question was doing something suspicious, troubles could arise from his actions.

As a Verb, the phrase also signals danger. When used in Verb form, you may encounter the gerund or past tense of the word, such as:

  • Red-flagging
  • Red-flagged

Examples of the idiom “red flag”

  • Fever is the body’s red flag.
  • Teachers always check for red flags such as tardiness and absences.
  • Feeling of anxiety, depression is often considered as the mind’s Red flag.
  • Employers consider a constant shift in jobs as a red flag.
  • She saw a red flag when the boss asked her for personal favors.

Color Idiom

Often, the English language uses idioms that invoke color imagery, like, I feel blue, in the pink, red flag, etc. These figures of speech are used because colors have a strong association with emotions. For example, “Bulls (male cows) are color blind, but a matador (bullfighter), uses a red flag to provoke the animal”. Why use a red rag to anger a colorblind bull?

An image representing the idiom “Red Flag”

The color red, symbolically, always represents love, anger, urgency, or a warning, among English-speaking nations. Originally, during the 1600s, red flags were used to signify that an army was on the verge of war. History and symbology aside, “red flag, ” the idiom, can be either a Noun or a Verb.

Additionally, when the phrase is a Verb, a hyphen is used. Here is an example, “The foreman red-flagged building the ship”. By saying this, the speaker is telling the listener that there’s some kind of danger in building the ship, the plans are unsound.

Let’s practice

Q1: Try and make your own sentence using the idiom “red flag”.
Q2: What should you do if someone raised a red flag while you were at school/work?
Q3: What are some common red flags to be aware of when shopping online?

What is an idiom?

Many languages have idioms. Chinese and English are well known for these colorful phrases. So, what is an idiom? An idiom is a group of words for which the meaning can’t be deduced through logic.

Few Idioms Examples

Again, idioms are imaginative but not necessarily logical. Moreover, they can be amusing and demonstrate a culture’s view of an idea or behavior. Here are a couple of examples:

Can you guess what the below idioms mean? They have nothing to do with the direct meaning of the words used in them.

  • In a pickle: This is an idiom that signifies being in trouble. Example: Bob was in a pickle, he accidentally scheduled two important meetings at the same hour.
  • In the dark: This is means to stay in ignorance. Example: The employers were still in the dark about the company’s increment policies.
  • Raining Cats and Dogs: Raining cats and dogs doesn’t mean it is raining cats or dogs. It only means raining hard or raining very heavily. Example: I am worried about how to reach the meeting venue on time, it is raining cats and dogs.
  • Pulling your leg: This is an idiom that’s used to mean to joke or tease someone. Example: As an elder sister, she always liked pulling her younger brother’s, but is always there by his side when he needs her.

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