Where Did the Term “Red Herring” Come From and What Does the Expression Mean?

A “red herring” is a false clue leading detectives off the track during a criminal investigation.

The term comes from a practice once used to train police dogs.

When herring is smoked it becomes red, and when the young dogs were being trained to follow a scent, the trainers tossed smoked fish around to test their ability to follow a trail.

where did the term red herring come from and what does the expression mean

Escaping prisoners learned of the practice and often took red herring along to distract the dogs sent after them.

Misleading evidence is often called a “red herring”.

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Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.