in the red


in the red


  • more money going out than coming in
  • spending more than you earn
  • owing money to the bank
  • in debt
  • negative bank balance

Example Sentences

  1. If your bank account goes in the red, the bank will charge you for every transaction.
  2. Louise spent way too much money last month, and now she’s in the red.
  3. Sam is rubbish with money management; that’s why he’s permanently in the red.
  4. The film was in the red from the day it hit the cinema screens. What a monumental flop!
  5. The company has been in the red for quite a while, and now they are struggling to pay staff wages and stay afloat.
  6. This is the company’s third year in a row being in the red.
  7. London stocks were still firmly in the red by midday yesterday.
  8. The unemployment trust fund was going to be in the red because of the pandemic.
  9. Stocks have recorded modest gains after opening the day in the red.
  10. Bank of America shares slip in the red after hitting record high.


This phrase comes from the field of bookkeeping and profit and loss ledgers. The entries for loss or debt have long been written in red ink, hence ‘in the red.’ On the other hand, a solvent bank account is ‘in the black’ as positive entries and profits are written in black ink.

This idiom was first seen in print in 1907 in Money and Investments by Montgomery Rollins.

“Formerly it was customary, and is now with some bookkeepers, to make an entry of a loss in red ink, from whence arose the term ‘in the red’ always indicating a loss.”

Share your opinions2 Opinions

The idiom is describing the status, because red refers to instability and something is wrong.

‒ Obbo Joshua March 31, 2021

The idiom is describing the status, because red always refers to the danger and instability. I like the idiom and will use it.

‒ Fathy Abdel Zaher March 25, 2021

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