Definition of red herring in US English:

red herring

noun

  • 1A dried smoked herring, which is turned red by the smoke.

    • ‘Many a person has gone away smiling after eating one of Kipperman's red herring, bloaters or kippers.’
    • ‘In the next few decades these kippers almost completely took over the market from the old salty red herrings.’
    bluff, blind, ruse, feint, deception, subterfuge, hoax, trick, ploy, device, wile, sham, pretence, artifice, cover, smokescreen, distraction, expedient, contrivance, machination
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  • 2Something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.

    ‘the book is fast-paced, exciting, and full of red herrings’
    • ‘There are few red herrings to distract you from the inexorable march of the plot.’
    • ‘Duplicities and red herrings pile up, augmented by the film's reinforcing structures of uncertainty, making for a daunting epistemological game.’
    • ‘In fact, the narrative is full of loose ends and red herrings, and the episodic writing frequently loses momentum.’
    • ‘Obviously, the old murder-mystery impetus is there, and the red herrings and shock revelations are being doled out as standard.’
    • ‘Yet my own view was that for my particular story, this was a bit of a red herring.’
    • ‘The weird narrative developments are beginning to feel less like clues and more like red herrings.’
    • ‘It's most often when these kinds of things happen, it's a red herring, it's just a propaganda ploy.’
    • ‘Most of the film is spent working very hard to build suspense and distract the audience with red herrings that stop being effective early on.’
    • ‘The issue was made as a red herring to detract from the real issues in respect of his management style.’
    • ‘We suspect that the Environment Agency is using the issue as a red herring to draw the attention away from their own inadequacies.’
    • ‘This is simply a red herring to try and distract angry voters in Hobson.’
    • ‘Often they're false clues, red herrings.’
    • ‘However they were uncertain as to whether it was the address of one of the suspects or a red herring.’
    • ‘I'm told there is evidence to back up this claim, so why the red herrings?’
    • ‘I had the postcode, the street, a number and a few clues about a jeep but a red herring about curtains.’
    • ‘Many academics will talk about productivity and value, and profitability, but these issues are red herrings.’
    • ‘Where else but in detective stories do we find ‘coats in store windows’ invested with such importance - as real clues or red herrings, as the case may be?’
    • ‘No, I think that issue is a real red herring.’
    • ‘It is a quest for the truth that drops vital clues and red herrings along the way.’
    • ‘But the focus on the 45-minute claim is itself a red herring intended to draw attention away from a far bigger deception.’
    bluff, blind, ruse, feint, deception, subterfuge, hoax, trick, ploy, device, wile, sham, pretence, artifice, cover, smokescreen, distraction, expedient, contrivance, machination
    lie, falsehood, fib, fabrication, deception, made-up story, trumped-up story, fake news, invention, fiction, piece of fiction, falsification, falsity, cock and bull story, barefaced lie
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Pronunciation

red herring

/ˈˌred ˈheriNG//ˈˌrɛd ˈhɛrɪŋ/