red letter day

See also: red-letter day


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An allusion to the practice, dating to classical antiquity, of marking important days in red on calendars.


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red letter day (plural red letter days)

  1. A day marked in red on calendars; a church feast day.
    • 1825, Christian Gleaner and Domestic Magazine, Volume 2, page 161,
      The only red-letter day occurring in July, is the twenty-fifth, called St James's Day.
  2. (idiomatic) A particularly significant day; a day of personal or sectarian celebration.
    Monday was a red letter day for her. She accomplished a lot and had fun doing it.
    We saw losses for days in a row, but Black Tuesday was the worst red letter day of them all.
    • 1975, John Ankenbruck, Twentieth Century History of Fort Wayne, page 286,
      "In the meantime, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre at Chicago was a red-letter day in the gangster wars."
    • 2007, Clyde Wilton, Wilton's Wit, iUniverse, page 3,
      So I assume that we all have some red letter days that are precious to our memories—maybe a first date, a wedding, a gift, a word of encouragement, a vacation, a graduation or a trip to an interesting place.
      I had one of those red letter days when I was a young boy, perhaps five or six years old.
    • 2010, Eric Braun, Doris Day, Hachette, Revised and updated edition, unnumbered page,
      That was, indeed, a red-letter day in my filmgoing life, and a red-letter day in my literary life was when I was asked to write a new biography of Doris Day.

Usage notesEdit

  • Usually used to refer to a notably positive, favorable occasion, but sometimes used with a negative sense.




See alsoEdit