I noticed that we don’t call a person in red clothes “red person,” but we call a face with a red cream “red face,” eyes with red-colored lens “red eyes” or lips applied with a red lipstick “red lips.” Why is there the difference?

  • Because a "red person" would have to be red everywhere. Obviously, that can only be possible if you're talking about someone with red-colored skin, or people who are in their heart, red. Most of these uses of the phrase "red person" are not positive. Jul 21, 2021 at 14:04
  • "eyes with red-colored lens" - the part of the eyes that is colored is the iris, although we also say someone has red eyes if the whites of their eyes (technically, the sclera) is bloodshot.
    – stangdon
    Jul 21, 2021 at 14:09
  • In your language do you call a person wearing red clothes a "red person". Do you say that a person with red lipstick had "red lips". There have been a number of similar questions from Korean speakers. I wonder if there is something about the adjectival construction in Korean that makes this confusing
    – James K
    Jul 21, 2021 at 16:08
  • @James K “Red lips” is natural, but “red person” is unnatural but understandable. I think it’s the same with English.
    – user139946
    Jul 21, 2021 at 22:00
  • So why is there a difference in your language? Why is "red person" unnatural? (I suspect the answer you give would be the same as in English)
    – James K
    Jul 21, 2021 at 22:23

1 Answer 1


A person who is wearing red clothes is not actually colored red, but lips that have red lipstick on them are now actually colored red. We would only say a person was a "red person" if they were completely painted red. We don't say "a red X" if the X is merely covered with something else that is red.

Please be aware that "red person" or "red man" in American English can also be an offensive reference to an American Indian, so you should be extremely cautious about using the phrase.

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