Paint the town red is an idiomatic phrase, used to express people enjoying themselves thoughtlessly, causing absolute mayhem and rumbling ruckus wherever they turn up.
The expression itself is usually used in relation to the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
While the exact origin of the expression is not known, there are numerous theories, sources and anecdotes that point toward its conception.
One of the earliest mentions of the phrase comes from Dante’s “Divine Comedy”; “we are they who painted the world scarlet with sins”.
Another popular contender to the origin of “paint the town red” comes from England, from the story of the Marquis of Waterford who is said to have made a tour with his friends in Melton Mowbray, vandalizing public property, as well as painting a toll booth red.
The third most popular concept ties the idiom to the Wild West, where drunken gunslingers would threaten to “paint the town red” amid their drunken escapades.
“Paint the town red” remains a popular expression used for having a night of thoughtless fun.
It was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2005.
In 2015, a game was released under the title “Paint the Town Red” which makes the player go on a killing spree in bars, painting the town red with the blood of their enemies.
- Guardian.co.uk – What is the origin of the expression ‘to paint the town red’?
- Historyextra.com – Why do we say ‘Paint the town red’?