red line
Posted: 24 October 2012 02:32 AM   [ Ignore ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3053
Joined  2007-02-26

I’ve been hearing this a lot in the news, this year, meaning “a line that must not be crossed” or perhaps “a line whose crossing will instigate severe action”.

“My red line is Iran may not have a nuclear weapon,” Romney told ABC News. “It is inappropriate for them to have the capacity to terrorize the world. Iran as a nuclear nation is unacceptable to the United States of America.”

Is this a fairly new buzzphrase? I haven’t really noticed it before. Has it picked up in popularity this year?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 02:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4687
Joined  2007-01-03

It’s been around for a long time. The OED has a good account of the literal red line, coming from engine gauges, back to 1941, but doesn’t document the metaphorical usage well.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 October 2012 07:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2816
Joined  2007-01-31

Related to the “marked limit on a gauge” sense is the verb usage: “The engine redlines at 6000 rpm”.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ Beowulf      The lower 48 ››