be red in the face

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be red in the face

1. To undergo and show signs of embarrassment, shame, or humiliation. John was totally red in the face when Dad started telling embarrassing stories about him as a kid in front of his prom date. I could hear people making fun of me during my speech, so I was pretty red in the face by the time I finished.
2. To undergo and show signs of physical exertion or strain. I was red in the face from pulling on the door, but it wouldn't budge an inch. You can complain about it till you're red in the face, but we're going to grandma's house for Christmas whether you like it or not.
See also: face, red

red in the face, be

Suffer embarrassment or shame; also, exert oneself to the utmost. For example, He was red in the face from all of the mistakes he made while announcing the winners' names , or You can try until you're red in the face, but you still won't get straight A's. The phrase red face was already used in the late 1300s to refer to blushing on account of shame. However, the interjection Is my face red! meaning "I am very embarrassed or ashamed," dates only from about 1930.
See also: red