Paint the Town Red - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell your friends that you want to go out and party? If so, you could say to them that you want to “paint the town red.” This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.”


The meaning of the expression “paint the town red” is to go out and have the time of your life. Typically, it refers to cutting loose with friends in a venue out in the city or town. You’ll be interacting with other people and having fun.

To paint the town red means that you’re going to have the party of your life. It’s not a way to describe a casual drink after work at the local bar. When you tell people you want to paint the town red, you’re telling them you’re keen on having a heavy night out.

Example Usage

“Are you guys coming with us this weekend? We’re going out to paint the town red for Bianca’s birthday.”

“We really painted the town red last night; you should have been there to see how Bianca lost her mind at the strip club.”

“We’re painting the town red tonight. Are you going to join us? What clubs and bars do you recommend?”

“Let’s paint the town red tonight, we had a great quarter, and the sales figures are through the roof. The drinks are on the company.”

“Let’s hit the clubs tonight and paint the town red. I just got paid, and I’m keen to party!”


The expression's origin, "paint the town red," comes from the "Huntsmen" from Melton Mowbray. These men would go out on a hunt and come back to get horribly drunk as a celebration of their good fortune.

After the annual Belvoir fox hunt, the huntsmen would become so intoxicated that they would start painting the town square red. The legend goes that the huntsmen got tired of the job after painting a few houses, and no one stepped in to interfere with them at the time.

Historians are unsure of the exact date of these events, but some suggest it could come from the 1500s. The phrase is still in use in everyday language today, and you probably hear it all the time in media and conversations with your friends.

Phrases Similar to Paint the Town Red

  • Going HAM.
  • A heavy night.
  • What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Phrases Opposite to Paint the Town Red

  • Stay home.
  • No fun.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Paint the town red.

Ways People May Say Paint the Town Red Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with painting anything red, nor does it have any association with the color red. It’s a way of saying you're going out for a good time, usually during the nighttime.

Using it to describe painting objects or people red is the incorrect use of the expression. Also, using any other color in place of red in the phrase is the incorrect use of the term.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Paint the Town Red

You can use the expression “paint the town red” when you’re telling friends that you want to go out for a night of partying on the town.

Maybe you want to hit a few clubs and bars or enjoy a concert. It’s a way of expression that you’re going to cut loose and enjoy a good time with your friends in a no-holds-barred environment where anything goes.

For instance, if you’re planning your girlfriend's birthday party this Saturday, you could send out an invitation telling all your friends that you’re going to “paint the town red” for her birthday.

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