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call on the carpet

Summon for a scolding or rebuke, as in Suspecting a leak to the press, the governor called his press secretary on the carpet. This term began as on the carpet, which in the early 1700s referred to a cloth (carpet) covering a conference table and therefore came to mean “under consideration or discussion.” In 19th-century America, however, carpet meant “floor covering,” and the expression, first recorded in 1902, alluded to being called before or reprimanded by a person rich or powerful enough to have a carpet.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Related Words

scold, chide, berate, admonish, upbraid, censure, castigate, reprimand, oppose, reproach, criticize, rebuke, denounce, blame, condemn, exhort, enjoin, warn, advise, revile