Tag Archives: expressions

Red-handed

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When we use the expression to be caught red-handed, did you ever think of its origin? It means to be caught in the act of doing something wrong or possibly illegal, with absolute proof of guilt.

Originally, it showed up in Scotland as long ago as the 15th century and literally meant to find someone with blood on his (or, in the case of Lady Macbeth, her) hands. By the mid-19th century, you no longer needed to exhibit bloody hands but merely be caught committing  some offense.

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Sown Any Wild Oats Lately?

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This expression means to act dissolutely or foolishly. “Wild oats” refers to a type of grass called Avena fatua that grows so prolifically in Europe it is considered a weed. Therefore, if you were to plant (sow) these wild oats, you’d be acting foolishly and starting something that would be hard to stop later on.

Now you know.

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