Definition of redline in English:



[WITH OBJECT]North American
  • 1Drive with (a car engine) at or above its rated maximum rpm.

    ‘both his engines were redlined now’
    • ‘I redlined my A4's four-banger as we came up on the depot.’
    • ‘Due to the very long stroke and alloy conrods, the motor is redlined at 7,000 and will definitely explode if persistently over-revved.’
    • ‘Bored by the long drive, Willy and Grecs decided to pass the time by redlining an already heated engine with high speed in low gear.’
  • 2Refuse (a loan or insurance) to someone because they live in an area deemed to be a poor financial risk.

    • ‘War on Poverty planners had argued that poverty persisted in distressed areas partly because banks and other businesses redlined them, starving them of the investment they needed to revive by refusing to do business there.’
    • ‘Private banks, and the Federal Housing and Veterans administrations, favored homeowner loans to single-family dwellings in the ‘new homogeneous’ neighborhoods sprouting to the west, and redlined older areas of the city.’
    • ‘When black families found a way to buy homes in white neighborhoods, such as Riverside Terrace along Houston's Brays Bayou, the FHA would redline the area as high-risk.’
    • ‘The white people have fled the urban center and the tax districts have been structured so that the affluent areas benefit themselves and the struggling areas get kind of redlined.’
    1. 2.1 Cancel (a project)
      call off, abandon, scrap, drop
      View synonyms


North American
  • The maximum number of revolutions per minute for a car engine.

    • ‘Thanks in part to the advent of electronic controls, engineers are trimming losses, perfecting combustion, boosting volumetric efficiency and raising redlines.’
    • ‘That is seriously fast, and on one daring high speed run, it proved to be stable too, as long as you get it out of fourth gear well before hitting redline.’
    • ‘The instrumentation has been massively improved and includes an arced rev counter with the redlines at 9,000.’
    • ‘At that point, the turbocharger begins to take over and carries on to the redline.’
    • ‘Acceleration is perfectly adequate up to about 80 mph, but the engine screams at redline when it's time to merge into highway traffic.’
    • ‘The second hint is the prodigious torque output and low engine redline.’
    • ‘For a car that lives life on the redline, you might expect more dramatic looks.’
    • ‘As the light turned green, I punched the throttle, and shifted quickly, dumping the clutch at the Audi's seven thousand RPM redline.’
    • ‘It settles to a hum at idle, but then just zings straight up to the redline with turbine-like smoothness.’
    • ‘The ‘manual’ shifts are quick, and top marks to Honda for not incorporating automatic upshifts when the 7000 rpm redline is reached.’


From the use of red as a limit marker, in redline (sense 2 of the verb) a limit marked out by ringing a section of a map.