What is the idiom “see red’?

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Many languages, such as Japanese, French, and Arabic, have idioms, but what are they? Simply put, an idiom is a group of words that has a meaning that can’t be deduced through logic.

Interestingly, an idiom’s meaning has been established by usage rather than entries in a dictionary. And so, if you were to look up the words one by one in a dictionary, you wouldn’t gain any clarity on the meaning of the sentence.

The English language has idioms for a wide range of phenomena. It even has one that fits the above situation, “ I searched the dictionary, but it didn’t shed any light on my confusion.”

Today’s lesson is about the idiom “seeing red.” A person who says “I see red” doesn’t literally see the color red, they’re angry.

The English language uses many idioms that invoke color imagery, like, “He has a green thumb”. These figures of speech are used because colors have a strong association with emotions within a culture. For example, among the Japanese, red symbolizes peace and prosperity, but among Americans, it’s the embodiment of rage.

Notably, the idiom “I see red,” was first used in 1901. However, there’s a dispute about its origin. Nonetheless, if you encounter a native English speaker saying “when I found out I was scammed, I saw red,” the speaker was angry.

Examples of the idiom “see red”

Talking to his demanding boss makes Mikazuki see red. 

Tamara saw red after hearing his name. 

Let’s practice 

Q1: Try and make your own sentence.

Q2: Are there certain things that make you see red? 

Q3: Can you think of a moment when you saw red? 

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