Color codes are used by institutions including hospitals, police departments, the government and military branches. The codes serve as labels and describe the type and severity of an emergency situation. The Marine Corps' "code red" is officially a weather-related code, but it has an unofficial use as well.

The Official Definition

The official definition of a Marine Corps code red is weather-related Base Operating Status. When the Marine Corps declares a code red, they are announcing that the winter weather is so severe that bases are closed and only essential and emergency personnel need to report for duty.

The Unofficial Definition

Unofficially, a Marine Corp code red is slang for hazing. Oxford Dictionaries defines hazing as “the imposition of strenuous, often humiliating, tasks as part of a program of rigorous physical training and initiation.” The movie “A Few Good Men” provided an example of this when the base commander ordered a code red be given to a young marine to teach him a lesson.