T-learning # Idiom
Speak Like a Native

a red herring

Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) a joke

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b) a strong smell

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c) a diversion

Well done ! That’s the right answer.

A red herring is a piece of information or suggestion introduced to draw attention away from the real facts of a situation. In films, a red herring can often be found in Alfred Hitchcock stories, where characters and things turn out to be anything but what the viewer expects them to be.

French translation

un faux-fuyant, une habile diversion, quelque chose qui brouille les cartes

How NOT to translate : *un hareng rouge


Examples in context

‘Mark Duggan death : Shooting ’not rigorously examined

Following an inquest, coroners have a legal duty to alert the authorities of their concerns about procedures, problems and issues that create a "risk of death". Judge Cutler questions the Met’s claim that there wasn’t any data to disclose.
This issue hardly featured during the inquest - it may turn out to be a red herring - but at the moment it’s unclear why the black boxes didn’t produce data, given that they did do six years earlier during the police operation which led to the fatal shooting in London of Azelle Rodney.’

BBC News, 4 June 2014


‘Shale industry faces global reality check

Concerns about water contamination, earthquakes and disruption to rural communities have captured the public imagination, but experts suggest we may be worrying about the wrong things.
"The argument that fracking damages the water supply doesn’t stack up, and any disruption would be fairly short-lived," says Prof Stevens. Concerns about earthquakes were always something of a red herring.
"The legitimate concerns," says Prof Stevens, "are ’What do we do with the waste water - there are nasty heavy metals and radioactivity [deep under ground] ?’ There is also the question of fugitive methane - we simply don’t know how much leakage there is".’

BBC News Business, 6 April 2014


Everyday usage

I cannot believe they have been following a red herring all this time. The real culprit could be anywhere by now !

A good detective novel will add a red herring or two to throw the reader off.

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