Question for "red herring"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Apr 26 22:47:07 UTC 2005

My casual notion would be that "red herring" might have been basically a
metaphor for "false lead" (presumably the dog's basic function was seen as
the tracking of game, not dead fish) ... and a false lead is false
regardless of whether there exists a true lead and regardless of which lead
looks the best. Of course the red herrings which are worth mentioning are
those which succeed in diverting one from success, so specialization of the
metaphor to cases where a true lead is missed might be expected. But I
haven't really researched this term.

-- Doug Wilson

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