1. a discriminatory practice by which banks, insurance companies, etc., refuse or limit loans, mortgages, insurance, etc., within specific geographic areas, especially inner-city neighborhoods.

verb (used with object), red·lined, red·lin·ing.

  1. to treat by redlining (an area or neighborhood).
  2. to establish the recommended safe speed of (an airplane): The bomber is redlined at 650 miles an hour.
  3. to draw a canceling red line through (an item on a list).
  4. to mark or designate for cancellation, rejection, dismissal, or the like: club members redlined for unpaid dues.
  5. to cause (an airplane) to be grounded.

verb (used without object), red·lined, red·lin·ing.

  1. to engage in redlining.


  1. Automotive.
    1. the maximum rotational speed, or angular velocity, of the engine crankshaft that is considered safe: often measured in rpm.
    2. a red line or boundary of a red area that delineates such a value, as on a tachometer.

verb (tr)

  1. (esp of a bank or group of banks) to refuse a loan to (a person or country) because of the presumed risks involved
  2. to restrict people’s access to goods or services on the basis of the area in which they live

also red-line, “mark in red ink,” 1820, from red (adj.1) + line (v.). Specific sense of “deny loans to certain neighborhoods based on ethnicity” is from 1973, on notion of lines drawn on maps. Used earlier in reference to insurance company practices (1961) and in World War II military slang in reference to a red line drawn through a soldier’s name for some infraction, thus denying his pay. Related: Redlined; redlining.

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