The Mysterious Red Herring

Posted on Sep 22, 2010 under Uncategorized | 3 Comments

In many Fictional Mysteries, the term “Red Herring” is used quite often.

Where Did That Come From?

A Red Herring is a device which intends to divert the audience from the truth or an item of significance. For example, in Mysteries an innocent party may be purposefully cast as highly “suspicious” through emphasis or descriptive techniques; attention is drawn away from the true guilty party.

In a literal sense, there is no such fish species as a “red herring”; it refers to a particularly strong kipper, i.e. fish – that has been strongly cured in brine and/or heavily smoked. This process makes the fish particularly pungent smelling and turns them red.

There are variations of the story, but the most common states that the red herring would be dragged along a trail until a puppy hound learned to follow the scent. Later, when the dog was being trained to follow the faint odor of a fox, the trainer would drag a red herring perpendicular to the animal’s trail to confuse the dog. The dog would eventually learn to follow the original scent rather than the stronger scent of the kippers – i.e. herring.

Another theory states that escaping convicts used the pungent fish to throw off hounds in pursuit.

Various facts offered by Wikipedia

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3 Responses to “The Mysterious Red Herring”

  1. Nancy Radlinger Says:

    Another great post – I keep reading your post here I could become a reader lololol – love the layout of your blog – really nice job

    Skype: nancyradlinger

  2. ellent Says:

    Good! I’ll turn you into a reader yet! lol

  3. Tammie Perry Says:

    I sure did not know any of this. It is amazing how we can find out different things about things we knew all a out. Thank you for the information, Ellen. Another great post.

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