- Carrot and stick
Carrot and stick (also spelled "carrot-and-stick") [American Heritage Dictionary, [http://www.bartleby.com/61/89/C0128900.html Entry for "carrot-and-stick"] ] is an
idiomthat refers to a policy of offering a reward for making progress towards benchmarks or goals but not necessarily ever actually delivering. The original metaphor referred to a boy sitting on a cart being pulled by a donkey. The boy held a long stick to which a carrot had been tied, and he dangled the carrot in front of the donkey but just out of its reach. As the donkey moved forward to get the carrot, it pulled the cart—and the boy—so that the carrot always remained just out of reach as the cart moved forward.
The earliest citation of this expression recorded by the "Supplement" to the "
Oxford English Dictionary" is to The Economistmagazine in the December 11, 1948, issue. The "Supplement" also depicts a person trying to entice a donkey to move by dangling a carrot in front of it, which represents the original meaning of the phrase.
The term is misused currently to refer to the act of rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior. The carrot represents the edible reward, while the stick refers to a punishing switch. This is actually a combination of 2 theories of diplomacy, Carrot and Stick and
Big Stick Diplomacy.
* Paul Brians, Department of English, Washington State University [http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/carrot.html “Carrot on a stick” vs. “the carrot or the stick.”]
* Rik & Drew, Carrot on Stick, Somewhere in the United Kingdom [http://www.carrotonstick.com “Carrots. Game reviews. More Carrots. Comics. Carrot on Stick.”]
* NYT letter to the editor [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9503E0D91639F930A35750C0A965948260 "CARROT AND THE STICK THAT INFLICTS NO HARM"]
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