May 18, 2007

red herring

Posted in Idioms at 10:13 am by Feng

red herring — something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand; a misleading clue [dict]

The origin of this phrase comes from this story: a hunted fox throws off a hound by dragging a red herring along a wrong trail. The hound follows the strong smell of the herring, and hence loses the quarry. One use of this phrase is seen below (from Economist):

“The bilateral trade imbalance, the target of so many American politicians’ anger, is an economic red herring.”


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