carrot and stick

Reward and punishment used as persuasive measures, as in Management dangled the carrot of a possible raise before strikers, but at the same time waved the stick of losing their pension benefits. This term alludes to enticing a horse or donkey to move by dangling a carrot before it and, either alternately or at the same time, urging it forward by beating it with a stick. [Late 1800s]


Nearby words

  1. carrom,
  2. carromata,
  3. carron oil,
  4. carronade,
  5. carrot,
  6. carrot fly,
  7. carrot-and-stick,
  8. carrot-top,
  9. carroty,
  10. carrousel

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