My native language is Dutch, and in my language you can say something like:

"Ik kom uit een bloedrode familie" which then literally translates to "I am from a blood red family". Meaning my parents were very left wing. I wonder whether or not I can say the same in English, or if 'blood red' in English just means red as the colour of blood, without a sort of extra emphasis. If the second, what would be better? Maybe: "I am from a scarlet family background"?

Addition, to make the question more clear, my 'audience' are British people, present day, between say 20 and 40.

  • 13
    It won't make sense in America, because here red is associated with the political right not the political left. Blue is associated with the political left here.
    – tchrist
    Jun 13, 2021 at 15:24
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    'Scarlet' is associated with adultery, not politics. Jun 13, 2021 at 18:59
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    @tchrist It's also associated with literal communists. "Better dead than red" and similar Cold War associations.
    – nick012000
    Jun 14, 2021 at 1:47
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    @tchrist That gives the Red Scare an entirely different meaning… (point being: red used to refer to the political left, also in the USA)
    – gerrit
    Jun 14, 2021 at 11:31
  • 2
    Not forgetting "Reds under the beds" from the McCarthy era. Jun 14, 2021 at 15:24

9 Answers 9


Agreed with the other answers that I would generally avoid "red" of any shade to indicate political leanings in an international audience.

The most natural phrase to me for what you describe would be to say "I come from a family of dyed-in-the-wool socialists / leftists / communists / etc".

From the Cambridge Dictionary:

dyed-in-the-wool adjective [ usually before noun ]
uk /ˌdaɪ.dɪn.ðəˈwʊl/
us /ˌdaɪ.dɪn.ðəˈwʊl/
If someone is dyed-in-the-wool, or has dyed-in-the-wool opinions, they hold those opinions strongly and will not change them:
He's a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist where cooking is concerned - he doesn't allow any modern gadgets in the kitchen.


If your question is about color - in the US we say deep red, dark red, blood red, bright red...any are fine with slight differences in describing the color. If you are speaking politics, I hesitate to answer as here in the US, these terms change so quickly you really dont want to brand yourself something if you dont understand the "brand's" meaning. What my parents labeled themselves years ago, is now unrecognizable to them.

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    Also, in US, the colors are reversed: red for the right wind and blue for the left wing.
    – md2perpe
    Jun 14, 2021 at 12:14
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    @md2perpe And that's only since 2000. Before that different TV networks used different color coding of election maps, and it was common to alternate every 4 years.
    – Barmar
    Jun 14, 2021 at 16:25
  • For colour I hear "beat red" a lot, to mean "very red" and no so much "the colour of beats". It's so prevalent that I've even heard people say "beat <other colour>" to mean very prominently that colour. Like "Beat Blue", despite that being totally nonsense
    – Cruncher
    Jun 14, 2021 at 18:57
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    Don't you mean "beet"? Jun 14, 2021 at 19:32
  • its obviously "beet", not "beat" guys! geesh
    – Fattie
    Jun 14, 2021 at 21:23

Here is a blog post where it's being used exactly as you describe, but with the polarity reversed:

Only the political story of Blackness within my adopted home state and the ongoing efforts to suppress our voices can explain how in a few short years, a state with adequate blue representation became blood red.

Here "blue" means, basically, "left", and "red" means "right".

As tchrist points out in the comments, we have switched the color coding in the US, so that "red" is associated with the Republican party, the party of the political right. The English Wikipedia article on red states and blue states gives a pretty good explanation. Because the red/blue terminology only started in the early 2000s and originally applied to whole states, it still tends to be used that way, as in the above example.

Of course, this reversal only applies to the US. In the rest of the English-speaking world, I expect your sentence would work fine translated directly from Dutch, although it's not really a familiar usage to me in things I have read from the UK or elsewhere beyond the US.


By way of comparison, the term pinko has been used to describe someone who is sympathetic to communism - pink being a lighter shade of red.

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    Spot on for the color connection but it is rarely used nowadays - that is very 1960's.
    – Mitch
    Jun 14, 2021 at 20:03
  • An excellent point, "pinko"
    – Fattie
    Jun 14, 2021 at 21:24

One word that works well with the specific political context is "flaming". As in "she's a flaming liberal" or "he's a flaming communist"

  • I have always thought that 'flaming' was just a polite way of saying the f-word, and you have used it to describe different political stances, so how can it be relevant to being 'left-wing'? Jun 14, 2021 at 18:25
  • @WeatherVane I don't think so. In my (AmE) experience, it's used almost exclusively with either left-wing politics or LGBT issues. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Kevin
    Jun 14, 2021 at 18:46
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    So isn't it just a pejorative term? Jun 14, 2021 at 18:48
  • I don't think it is "just" pejorative. It is used to say that someone is very liberal, which is what OP is looking for
    – Kevin
    Jun 14, 2021 at 18:55
  • You may be right - not my DV. But in Ngram you applied it to homosexual so it would not be only a political description? Jun 14, 2021 at 18:56

Literal translations of idioms seldom are meaningful in a target language, or (worse) they have a quite different meaning: "Red-blooded" in English English means "Aristocratic" - usually an exact opposite of left-wing! (I'm not sure about Scots English, let alone further afield.)

So translating an idiom usually demands that one finds a target-language idiom of sufficiently similar meaning (which then usually mistranslates literally back into the source language! - which in turn makes it hard to justify such a translation to the source-language writer/speaker!)

For the firmness of any belief, in English consider "rock-solid": in this case "rock-solid socialist". (Somehow, "rock-solid left-wing" doesn't feel right: perhaps "left-wing" is too vague to rate as a belief.)


The phrase “a red diaper baby” has been used since the 1960s in bith British and American English to refer to children of Communist (sometimes only strongly left) parents. See https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=red+diaper+baby&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=29&smoothing=3.

It is also used in the phrase “the red-diaper baby hypotheses” to express the notion that the 1960s radicals were possibly brought up by radical parents.

Although the term occurs in print, I have heard it in speech only once, by someone using the term to refer to himself in explaining why he had difficulty getting government clearances: his parents had been members of the American Communist Party.

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    "diaper" is definitely US English. In UK English that would be "nappy" - though I've never heard of either “a red diaper baby” or a “a red nappy baby” Jun 14, 2021 at 14:45
  • I came here to say this.
    – Mitch
    Jun 14, 2021 at 20:03

For English-speaking audiences, in a context where “red” is understood to refer to the political left (“The East is Red”, “Better Dead than Red”, etc.), one could say “ultra-red”, though “ultra-left” would of course be less potentially confusing.


  1. From an FBI report produced in 1949:

'"IVES is one hundred percent as left as can be. ... He looks like St. Louis or Iowa, but he talks red, his-talk is ultra-red."'


  1. From a 2001 article on Shanghai:

"Ultra-red Maoists declared a people's commune here and the Gang of Four made it their base."


  1. From an academic paper published in 2007

"An interviewee who had been appointed a Party member and "model worker" because of her ultra-red class background (before the revolution she had been sold into bonded child labor) ...."

Jonathan Unger, "The Cultural Revolution at the Grass Roots." The China Journal, Jan., 2007, No. 57 (Jan., 2007), p. 126


There is a (sort of) similar phrase in (American) English. To be a "bleeding-heart liberal" is to be very left-wing (that is, progressive, or in line with the Democratic Party).

It was originally used as an insult, used to characterize left-wing people as overly sympathetic and idealistic. But left-wing people have since used it to describe themselves (at least for the past 30-40 years). It arguably has a mildly humorous or self-deprecating tone.

So, you could say, "I come from a family of bleeding-heart liberals," or, "My family is a bunch of bleeding-heart liberals," or something like this.

Here's a link with some info about the history of the term if you want to read more: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/origin-bleeding-heart-liberal.

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    The phrase “bleeding-heart liberal” may be derogatory but rarely implies being very “left wing” except perhaps in circles where every liberal is thought to be “no better than a commie”.
    – peak
    Jun 14, 2021 at 9:29
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    In UK politics liberal is centrist - certainly the meaning of the term is nothing like communist en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism Jun 14, 2021 at 11:16
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    To me a “bleeding-heart liberal” is someone who hasn’t thought through the financial, economic and political implications of the things they believe in but simply goes along with policies like “provide free cuddles to all poor people” because they think that sounds like a nice thing to do.
    – Vicky
    Jun 14, 2021 at 20:44
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    I edited my original post to include that I am talking about American English. I also included a general timeframe. This question's answer will probably be very different from region to region.
    – popsongs
    Jun 15, 2021 at 0:57
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    Peak is right, I am actually meaning communist, pro soviet, member of the communist party. Like even being considered outcasts by the social democrats.
    – Marc W
    Jun 15, 2021 at 7:41

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