red book


red book


  • any document or publication, which is bound in red and serves as an official collection of rules, regulations, laws, or legal principles.
  • analogically, an authoritative or canonical volume, regardless of its binding.
  • alternatively, a book considered to be devilish or demonic in nature.

Example Sentences

  • I will need to consult the red book to determine whether there is an exception to the rule.
  • The Red Book, which presented the Government’s taxation plan, was presented to Parliament.
  • “The Red Book of the Irish Exchequer is said to afford some curious matters for selection” (Charles Purton Cooper, An Account of the Most Important Public Records of Great Britain, Volume 2, 1832).
  • “Reportedly, everyone carried a copy of the little red book at all times as a sign of loyalty to Mao” (Donald P. Whitaker and Rinn-Sup Shinn, et al., Area Handbook for the People’s Republic of China, Volume 550, Issue 60-62, p. 362).


The idiomatic phrase, “red book” (often capitalized “Red Book”) originally referred to 19th-century British registers, especially those that listed the genealogy and titles of the nobility. Prior to this, there was, reportedly, a volume of traditional veterinary medicine, which was known as The Red Book of Appin. It is considered by some to be a grimoire. According to a Scottish folktale circulated by John Francis Campbell in the mid-nineteenth century, a young shepherd from Appin took possession of the book from a demonic, fire-breathing monster.

In contemporary British usage, “Red Book” refers to a treasury forecast concerning annual revenue, likely rates of inflation, and anticipated costs. In the United States, the term often refers to a multi-volume reference guide issued by the US Government Accountability Office titled, Principles of Federal Appropriations Law.

Numerous other governments and organizations bind their canonical texts in red. For example, in the Anglican Communion, the Book of Common Prayer is often referred to as the red book. In Australia, the Red Book lists the sale value of vehicles; it is functionally equivalent to the Kelley Blue Book, which is used in the United States.

A number of books by well-known authors are referred to as “the red book.” Examples include Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, which is standardly known as “the little red book,” and Carl Jung’s manuscript, Liber Novus (‘The New Book‘), which has been published under the title, The Red Book: Liber Novus.

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