- (idiom) In the act of wrongdoing. Almost always used in the phrase to be caught red-handed.
- His mother caught him , reaching into the cookie jar.
Etymology: 'To be taken with red hand' in ancient times was to be caught in the act, like a murderer, his hands red with his victim's blood. The use of 'red hand' in this sense goes back to 15th century Scotland and Scottish law. Scott's 'Ivanhoe' has the first recorded use of 'taken red-handed' for someone apprehended in the act of committing a crime. Not long after, the expression became more common as 'caught red-handed.'" From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997), Page 135-136 and 138
- Dutch: op heterdaad (betrapt)
- French: en flagrant délit
- Italian: con le mani nel sacco
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