One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: a member of the New Zealand Federation of Labour (founded in 1909). In later use (informal): a person who rebels against the established order; a left-winger.
Early 20th century; earliest use found in New Zealand Free Lance (Wellington). Shortened from Red Federationist from red + federationist, after Red Federation, popular name of the New Zealand Federation of Labour.
Red Fed/ˈrɛd ˌfɛd/
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