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carrot on a stick

A reward that is promised to someone as an incentive to complete some task. It is a variant of "carrot and stick" or "carrot or stick," which refer to both reward and punishment being simultaneously offered/threatened as an incentive to complete a task. The boss offered a 10% bonus as a carrot on a stick to whomever sold the most units by the end of the month. I always allow myself a chocolate bar as a carrot on a stick to motivate me to go to the gym each day.
See also: carrot, on, stick

carrot or stick

(hyphenated if used as a modifier before a noun) An incentivization method in which a reward and a punishment are simultaneously offered/threatened as a motivation to complete some task. It is a variant of "carrot and stick," which means the same. We use the carrot or stick as motivation at this company: you make more money if you sell more units, or your pay gets docked if you don't meet your quota. Some people like it, but I think their carrot-or-stick approach creates a dynamic of fear in employees.
See also: carrot, stick

carrot and stick

A motivational tactic that uses a reward and punishment system to encourage improved performance or behavior. Companies are slowly learning that the carrot and stick approach to management is ineffective—employees are much more motivated to do a better job when they are recognized for their hard work.
See also: and, carrot, stick


A person with red (orange) hair. I bet my future child will be a carrot-top. Red hair runs in my family.

a carrot and stick (approach)

rewards and punishments that influence someone's behavior Our company uses a carrot and stick - more money is the carrot, loss of your job is the stick.
Usage notes: used in different forms to describe different combinations of rewards and punishments: Management's proposed deal is all stick and no carrot. The latest round of peace talks offers both sides the carrot as well as the stick.
Etymology: based on the reward of a carrot (a long orange vegetable) and the punishment of using a stick to encourage a horse to move
See also: and, carrot, stick


if you use a carrot-and-stick method to make someone do something, you both offer rewards and threaten punishments (always before noun) I've had to take the carrot-and-stick approach to disciplining my kids. The harder they work, the more money they get.

a carrot-top

a person with hair that is an orange colour Joe's blond and Rosie's a carrot-top.

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]
See also: and, carrot, stick