see red

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Possibly from the red flag used in some historic armies to signal the imminence of battle, or from the red cloth used to enrage bulls in Spanish bullfighting, or more generally from the idea of red as a colour of warning and danger. Compare corresponding idioms in several European languages: French voir rouge, German rotsehen, etc.


see red ‎(third-person singular simple present sees red, present participle seeing red, simple past saw red, past participle seen red)

  1. (idiomatic) To become enraged, angry, or irritated.
    • 1901, Frank Norris, The Octopus, ch. 2:
      "So help me, God," he cried, "when I think it all over I go crazy, I see red."
    • 1920, William MacLeod Raine, The Big-Town Round-Up, ch. 22:
      Nothing but his temper, the lack of self-control that made him see red . . ., had kept Jerry out of a world championship.
  2. (idiomatic, soccer) To receive a red card, and be dismissed from the playing field.
    • 2005 Jan. 26, Rob Hughes, "Soccer: Trio from Senegal is having a ball," New York Times (retrieved 14 Nov 2013):
      Diop, sometimes criticized for passive play, saw red once this season when he lashed out at a foe who kicked away his legs.
    • 2010 December 28, Kevin Darlin, “West Brom 1 - 3 Blackburn”, in BBC[1]:
      Kalinic later saw red for a rash tackle on Paul Scharner before Gabriel Tamas was dismissed for bringing down Diouf.