Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
What do you think? It used to be an expression for encouragement by use of a promised reward that could never quite be reached. It seems to have eggcorned into the choice between a reward or a punishment. As the latter is now such a common expression, does it qualify?
You’ve got it backward. The earliest and only traditional expression is “the carrot OR the stick,” expressing reward vs. punishment. I’ve written this up at
Interesting. Thank you, Brian. Now I know. I guess I should have checked the OED first.
The term that I have heard for a reward that it never quite within reach is “dangling a carrot”.
I always understood it as “carrot on a stick”, refering to dangling a carrot from a stick, just in front of a donkey or horse, so that it will keep moving forward. Giving someone a motivation.