Friday, October 3, 2008

Murder and Mayhem Word of the Day: red herring

The Word of the Day for October 3 is:

red herring   \RED-HERR-ing\   noun
     1 : a herring cured by salting and slow smoking to a dark brown color
    *2 : something that distracts attention from the real issue

Example sentence:
     The editorial asserts that the hoopla over the proposed new convention
center is a red herring, deflecting attention from the mayor's failure to
resolve the budgetary crisis.

Did you know?
     Believe it or not, "red herring" has as much to do with hunting
dogs as with brightly colored fish. Here's how: A herring is a soft-finned
bony fish. People who like to eat herring have long preserved them by salting
and slowly smoking them. That process makes a herring turn red or dark brown --
and gives them a very strong smell. Dogs love to sniff such smelly treats, a
fact that makes the fish a perfect diversion for anyone trying to distract
hunting dogs from the trail of their quarry. The practice of using preserved
fish to confuse hunting dogs led to the use of the term "red herring"
for anything that diverts attention from the issue at hand.

Sylvia Hubbard
Author, Blogger and Founder of Motown Writers Network
NOW AVAILABLE: Secrets, Lies and Family Ties

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