Any signal that something is amiss. For example, if something funny showed up in your accounting, the IRS might say that a red flag has been put on your file, or more simply, that your account had been flagged. This term probably migrated from flags used in various sports to indicate a violation, along with the American cultural meaning of the word red.


If the golf course you're playing is of championship quality, you will probably see three different colored flags on the greens. Normally, you'll see six of each.

The red flag normally indicates that the pin is cut on the front portion of the green. A white flag is often used to indicate that the pin is in the middle portion, and a blue flag is often used to indicate that the pin is in the back.

Your eye can be wrong when judging the position of the pin from over 100 yards out, thus the use of these flags. When setting the course up for play, the position of the tees used that particular day will usually determine the position of the pins on the greens.

A red flag is the international symbol of communism.

Our workers' flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyrs dead,
'Ere their bones grow stiff and cold,
Their lifeblood stains its every fold.
So raise our scarlet standard high,
Beneath our flag we'll live and die,
Though traitors flinch and cowards fear,
We'll keep The Red Flag flying here!

RED FLAG! OI!


"Red flag" has become a slang term in schools (at least where I Live) meaning "watch out, this kid might go Columbine!". Someone must have seen it on some TV show or heard it on the intercom or something, and it just caught on. It implies, in jest, that this is a potential problem (in the sense that jonlasser was talking about) and the offender ought to be referred to the authorities. You say it when someone makes an offhand, joking threat of violence . For example:

"I'm getting a C in biology."
"Haha, you're an idiot."
"I'll kick your ass."
"Uh oh, red flag!"

I guess it makes one realize just how common a device this in in conversation, at least among hormonally driven teenagers. It's also a somewhat embittered shot at a system that now thinks everyone in this country is liable to fly off the handle just because they threatened to kick someone's ass. Lighten up, America.

The first time the red flag was used politically was in His Britannic Majesty's fleet in the 18th Century. The sailors struck for better conditions, threw a few of the more repressive officers overboard and raised the red flag to show their defiance. They won the strike and the King capitulated, but later they went back on their word about no reprisals and many of the "ringleaders" were hanged.

But the red flag even predates this, in the Carribean in the 17th century there was a serious traffic in gold and many many pirates. Amongst the most vicious were the all-female pirate ships.
When they went to raid a ship they would fly their battle flag. Everybody has heard of the "Jolly Roger" skull-and-crossbones style pirate flag, but actually their flag was blood-red and Jolly Roger is a derivation of the French "Jolie Rougier", for these pirates were Red and Beautiful!

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