a red rag to a bull

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a red rag to a bull

A willfully infuriating or aggravating provocation; something that incites great anger or annoyance. An allusion to matadors' practice of waving red flags at a bull during a bullfight, though the color of the flag actually makes no difference to the animal. John's gone to gloat about his success over his brother, which is a red rag to a bull if I've ever seen one. You do realize that bringing your new girlfriend to your ex-wife's house is like a red rag to a bull, right?
See also: bull, rag, red

a red rag to a bull

BRITISH or

a red flag before a bull

AMERICAN
If something always makes a particular person very angry, you can say that it is like a red rag to a bull or a red flag before a bull. This sort of information is like a red rag to a bull for the tobacco companies but it really needs to be exposed. It's a red rag to a bull when my son won't admit that he's wrong. Compare with a red flag.
See also: bull, rag, red

(like) a red rag to a bull

an object, utterance, or act which is certain to provoke or anger someone.
The colour red was traditionally supposed to provoke a bull, and is the colour of the cape used by matadors in bullfighting.
1998 Times Such talk is like a red rag to a bull at the Soil Association.
See also: bull, rag, red

(like) a red rag to a ˈbull

(British English) (American English like waving a red flag in front of/at a ˈbull) certain to make a particular person very angry or even violent: Don’t mention anything about religion to your uncle. It’s like a red rag to a bull.
This expression refers to the belief that bulls do not like the colour red.
See also: bull, rag, red
References in periodicals archive ?
I suppose the predominantly red flag could be interpreted as a "red rag to a bull".
I also saw her giving out lollipops - a red rag to a bull, as I am almost toothless because of lollipops and seaside rock.
WELL, it was like a red rag to a bull. Last week I wrote about how decriminalisation of cannabis in Colorado had shown early signs of promise in terms of health and crime benefits.
And speaking of cattle, when Cain suddenly arrives home, Moira's figurehugging dress is like a red rag to a bull.
Freddie uncovers possible evidence at a charity function, but when he shows it to Bel, Laurie interrupts, telling them to steer clear of the story, which is like a red rag to a bull - if there's a surefire way to make them more determined than ever to get to the bottom of a story, it's to tell them not to touch it with a bargepole.
But you can't help thinking that terrorists watching this would see the nature of the film as the equivalent of a red rag to a bull. And does it give away too many Seal secrets?
If you knew Raoul it was like a red rag to a bull. I couldn't work out why she was saying it."
"That was like a red rag to a bull and they went after her.
FORMER Olympic athlete Steve Cram MBE took a red rag to a bull to promote a new event.
Red rag to a Bull After last year's year-long bickering over who was topdog at the championshipwinning Red Bull F1 team, which culminated in German ace Sebastian Vettel pipping Aussie team-mate Mark Webber to the title, you might be wondering if the situation is still simmering.
The source said: "Wearing a watch like that is like a red rag to a bull. The governor offered to put it in his safe but Jack said he will never take it off." Despite the danger, a friend of Tweed (left) said he was "well-chuffed" on his move from tougher Chelmsford..
An MP said the decision to bring in hundreds of European contractors to work on an oil refinery construction project was "like a red rag to a bull" to unemployed British skilled workers.
A boarded up house is to a yob like a red rag to a bull.
Anyone with any common sense will know that the Channel 4 series was like oering a red rag to a bull and would provoke public outrage.
If you knew Raoul, it was like a red rag to a bull."