paint the town red

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Reputedly from an incident in 1837, when the Third Marquess of Waterford celebrated a successful hunt by daubing red paint onto the buildings of the High Street of Melton Mowbray.

Verb[edit]

paint the town red

  1. (idiomatic) To party or celebrate in a rowdy, wild manner, especially in a public place.
    It was the end of term and students decided to celebrate by painting the town red.
    • 1894, Bret Harte, "The Heir of the McHulishes" in A Protegee of Jack Hamlin's and Other Stories:
      After that dinner at MacFen's he was done for—went wild. Danced a sword-dance, or a strathspey, or some other blamed thing, on the table, and yelled louder than the pipes. So they all did. Jack, I've painted the town red once myself.
    • 1919, William MacLeod Raine, A Man Four-Square, ch. 8:
      Half a dozen cowboys cantered up the main street of Los Portales in a cloud of dust. One of them, older than the rest, let out the wild yell. . . . A second flung into the blue sky three rapid revolver shots. Plainly they were advertising the fact that they had come to paint the town red and did not care who knew it.

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