Facts, History, and Meanings of the Color Red

A collection of facts, history, meanings, lore, uses and phrases about the color red.



History and Lore: In the Ebers Papyrus, said to be the oldest complete book in existence (c.1550 B.C.), the color red was used for chapter headings, names of diseases, and weights and dosages of drugs. The Egyptians considered themselves the red race and applied red dye for emphasis. A red flag was used by the Romans as a signal for battle. In the French Revolution the red flag became the symbol of insurrection. When the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia, they used the red flag as their emblem, and ever since red has been considered the color of communism. The word red in Russian also means "beautiful." In India it is the symbol of the soldier. To the Chinese and the Hopi, it represents the direction south.

Daily Uses: Its excellent visibility qualities in extreme darkness have led to the use of red for stop signs, danger signals, and brake lights. It is also used to designate fire equipment. Its stimulating effect has led to its use for features in advertising, as well as highlights on displays. Red may cause restlessness and insomnia if used in bedrooms, but it is considered appropriate for exercise and play rooms.

Red is found in such foods as beets, radishes, red cabbage, tomatoes, cherries, red plums, strawberries, cayenne, cloves, and red kidney beans.

Colorful Phrases: Paint the town red, to see red, in the red, red-letter day, red-neck, red tape, red-hot, not worth a red cent, caught red-handed, red-carpet treatment, better dead than red.

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