paint the town red


paint the town red


  • to celebrate and have a wild time
  • to go out and have a lot to drink
  • to enjoy yourself flamboyantly

Example Sentences

  1. I can’t wait to go out with my best friend and paint the town red!
  2. Let’s go and paint the town red, Sarah.
  3. We are getting all dressed up next week and we are going to paint the town red.


There are various opinions of where the phrase originated. However, it is hard to say which one is correct.

The most popular opinion being that it is American slang that is believed to have originated because of bonfires and fireworks that were used to celebrate.

The EOD quotes the Chicago Advance (1897): ‘The boys painted the town [New York City] red with firecrackers [on Independence Day].’

It is also believed to date back to when cowboys rode into town. They would get rowdy and threaten to “paint the town red” with blood.

According to Oscar Wilde, it’s Dante, The Inferno: “we are they who painted the world scarlet with sins.” Inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy.

It is also said that the phrase is relates to an 1837 incident involving the Marquis of Waterford, who went out drinking with his friends in the English town of Melton Mowbray. The group got very drunk and caused a lot of destruction. They even painted various objects in the town red. However, this story cannot be substantiated and very little written evidence can be found of the tale.

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