roll out the red carpet: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘roll out the red carpet’ mean?

The idiom "roll out the red carpet" means to give someone a grand or luxurious welcome or treatment, often reserved for important or prestigious individuals.

Idiom Explorer


Roll out the red carpet is an idiom commonly used in English-speaking countries, particularly in the United States. The idiom refers to according a special welcome or reception to someone of importance or prestige. The term "red carpet" has become synonymous with formal events and VIP treatment, often seen at award shows, movie premieres, and other high-profile gatherings. The idiom is believed to have originated from ancient Greece and Rome, where red carpets were used to welcome and honor royalty and other dignitaries.

The origin of the idiom can be traced back to ancient times, where it was common to roll out a red carpet or carpet of other vibrant colors to mark the path taken by royalty or high-ranking officials. This ceremonial act symbolized respect and honor, creating a grand entrance for those deemed important. The tradition of rolling out a carpet for esteemed guests continued through the Renaissance period and eventually found its way into popular usage.

In modern times, the idiom "roll out the red carpet" has evolved to signify a warm and lavish reception for someone important. It implies that the person being welcomed is held in high regard and deserves special treatment and attention. The idiom is often used metaphorically to describe granting someone access or privileging them with special treatment and hospitality. It is used in situations where someone is made to feel exceptionally welcome or honored.

The popularity and widespread use of the idiom can be attributed to its association with glamour and prestige. It is commonly used in the entertainment industry, where celebrities and public figures are frequently welcomed with a literal or metaphorical red carpet. The idiom has also found its way into various other contexts, such as business events, political gatherings, and even everyday situations.

Welcome to the red carpet of honor and hospitality.

One related idiom that can be associated with rolling out the red carpet is "give the royal treatment". This phrase implies treating someone with utmost care, respect, and attention, similar to how royalty would be treated. It adds an extra layer of luxury to the red carpet treatment, emphasizing the VIP status of the person being welcomed.

Another related idiom is "roll in wealth". Although seemingly unrelated, this idiom can be connected to rolling out the red carpet in the sense that both signify abundance and prosperity. When someone is said to "roll in wealth", it means they have great wealth and abundance. The act of rolling out the red carpet can be seen as a display of opulence and luxury, reflecting the idea of rolling in wealth.

Similarly, the idiom "roll the pitch" can be related to rolling out the red carpet. This idiom refers to the act of preparing a sports field or pitch before a game by rolling it with a heavy roller. Just as rolling the pitch ensures a smooth and level playing surface, rolling out the red carpet ensures a welcoming and comfortable experience for the person being honored or welcomed.

Lastly, the idiom "roll up one's sleeves" can also be associated with rolling out the red carpet. When someone "rolls up their sleeves", they show a willingness to work hard and get involved. In the context of rolling out the red carpet, this idiom can represent the effort and attention to detail put into creating a special welcome for someone important. It signifies the dedication and preparation that goes into ensuring a memorable and meaningful reception.

While the idiom "roll out the red carpet" is most commonly used in a positive context, it can also carry negative connotations. In some cases, rolling out the red carpet may be seen as a superficial or insincere gesture, emphasizing style over substance. The idiom is sometimes used ironically or sarcastically to convey this sentiment. However, when used sincerely, it symbolizes a grand welcome fit for a person of importance.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "roll out the red carpet" can be used in a sentence:

  1. They decided to roll out the red carpet for the visiting dignitaries.
  2. The company rolled out the red carpet for its new CEO, organizing a grand reception.
  3. When she won the award, her friends and family rolled out the red carpet to celebrate her achievement.

The idiom "roll out the red carpet" is commonly used to describe a warm and lavish welcome or reception for someone or something special. It originated from the practice of rolling out a literal red carpet as a sign of honor and respect for important guests.

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