red hot vs white hot

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JBPARK

Senior Member
When you say something like, "LeBron is red hot from the free throw line." in the context of basketball,
can you replace "red hot" with "white hot" or do they have different nuance?
 
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think "white hot" is even hotter than "red hot," but they convey the same idea. "Red hot" is more common as a metaphor in contexts such as the one you provided.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    Some metals, when heated, become red. If they are heated to even higher temperatures, they become white. Thus "white hot" is "hotter" than "red hot," literally or metaphorically. Since "red hot" is obviously hyperbole to begin with in this context, "white hot" might be considered overdoing it.

    Although both mean "very hot," they are not synonyms and you can't always replace "red" with "white."
     
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