A RED HERRING
The meaning and origin of words and phrases related to herrings
A herring is a sea-fish that is eaten both cooked from fresh and cured. Its name comes from the Old English hēring or hǽring although its ultimate derivation is uncertain. However, one suggestion is that it is from the Old English for grey hār because of their silvery-grey colour. Hār is also the origin of the word hoary and hoarfrost. Altermatively, it may be from the Old High German hęri meaning multitude, from the large numbers in which they live.
A red herring means something that diverts attention (quite often intentionally) away from that which should be receiving interest. The term is especially used to refer to a misdirection in a murder novel. Dating back to the nineteenth century, the expression relates to strong-smelling red herrings which are herrings that have been heavily smoked until they have turned red in colour. They are not often sold in Britain and so are most familiar from this popular expression. In medieval times they were used to lay down a scent trail to train hounds to follow a scent. The expression is said to originate from fugitives using them to lay a false trail in order to distract pursuing bloodhounds.
Herring-bone is a distinctive pattern used in textiles, flooring and brickwork that consists of two or more rows of short parallel lines that slant in alternate directions, forming a series of parallel Vs or zigzags. The pattern is so-called because it resembles the bone arrangement in a herring.
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