What does “caught red-handed” mean? Learn how to use this expression and what it really means.

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In today’s lesson, I’m going to teach you the idiom “To be caught red-handed.”

What does this mean? To be caught red-handed? Like with a red hand?

Well, it’s an idiom, so it’s figurative, of course.

Literally you could be caught red-handed if you were committing a crime like killing somebody.

The blood could make your hand red.

So, if somebody saw you with blood on your hands then it’s like they caught you red-handed.

But this idiom has come to mean more than that.

This idiom nowadays simply means that you were caught in the act or you were caught while you were doing something wrong or
committing a crime.

For example, let’s say that I am trying to steal a car.

So, I’m right next to the car, I’m trying to pick the lock, meaning open the lock without a key.

I’m trying to pick the lock and then the police come. They see me; they see me while I’m doing the crime.

So, they catch me at the same moment that I am participating or doing this crime.

So, I am caught red-handed. In this case, there is no blood on my hand or anything, so it’s just figurative.

I’m caught red-handed.

So, this idiom can be used for major things, you know, breaking the law.

But it could also be used for smaller things.

Like let’s say I have some cookies and I tell my son, “No eating the cookies, we’re saving them for tomorrow.”

And later that day I see him getting the cookies and I say, “Hey, I caught you red-handed” because I saw him taking the cookies.

So, it doesn’t have to be a crime. It can just be something that you’re doing that’s wrong, like this for example.

“Nowadays, many thieves are caught red-handed.”

“They didn’t catch him red-handed, but they do have a lot of evidence against him.”

“Well, I can’t deny it. You’ve caught me red-handed.”

I hope that you enjoyed this video and that now you can use the idiom “To be caught red-
handed” when you’re practicing your English.

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Thanks for watching and have a good day.

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