Idiom 118- caught red-handed

Today’s idiom is best used when gossipping (plaudern) with colleagues, as in:

„Did you hear about the  Creative Director? He came into the office late today, smelling of alcohol. About three hours later, his secretary went into his office and and caught him red-handed (kalt erwischt) taking a nap! He had been sleeping the whole morning!“


This idiom has its roots in Scotland from the 1400s and most likely refers to killers, either murderers or poachers (Wilderer) who were found with the blood of their victims on their hands. Today, the idiom has become far less gruesome and we use it to mean being caught in the act of doing something wrong, even if it’s something „harmless“ like sneaking the last piece of chocolate that your wife wanted to eat…