A red herring is something that misleads or distracts from an issue.
There are two ways in which it is used. It may be used as logical fallacy during an argument or as literary device that leads readers or audiences towards a false conclusion, for example in detective mystery books.
It has long been thought that the phrase came from kippers (a strong-smelling smoked fish) to train dogs to follow a scent, or to divert them from the correct route when hunting; however, modern research suggests that the term was probably invented in 1807 by English polemicist William Cobbett, referring to one occasion on which he had supposedly used a kipper to divert dogs from chasing a hare, and that hunters never actually used kippers to train dogs. The phrase was later borrowed to provide a formal name for the logical fallacy and literary device.
References[change | change source]
- Oxford English Dictionary. red herring, n. Third edition, September 2009; online version December 2011. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/160314; accessed 18 December 2011. An entry for this word was first included in New English Dictionary, 1904.
- Hurley, Patrick J. (2011). A Concise Introduction to Logic. Cengage Learning. pp. 131–133. ISBN 978-0-8400-3417-5.
- Niazi, Nozar (2010). How To Study Literature: Stylistic And Pragmatic Approaches. PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd. p. 142. ISBN 9788120340619. Retrieved 2013-03-02.
- Evans, Ivor H. (ed.) (1981) Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Centenary edition, revised) New York: Harper & Row. p.549. ISBN 0-06-014903-5