Definition of better dead than red (or better red than dead) in US English:

better dead than red (or better red than dead)

phrase

  • A cold-war slogan claiming that the prospect of nuclear war is preferable to that of a communist society (or vice versa).

    • ‘This was particularly true during the McCarthy era of the 1950s when anti-Communist hysteria - ‘better dead than red ‘- reached great heights, especially in Catholic circles.’’
    • ‘Having quite happily countenanced that MAD idea myself - better dead than red - I feel bound in conscience at least to give today's extremists the benefit of the doubt.’
    • ‘Ever notice how that kind of rhymes with ‘better dead than red?’’