Eggcorn perfection: "Carrot on a stick"/"Carrot and stick"

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sat Dec 11 21:36:55 UTC 2004

On Dec 11, 2004, at 1:03 PM, Ben Zimmer followed Jon Lighter and Doug
Wilson in tracking down variants of the carrot/stick saying:

I find nothing earlier than the dates given by Doug Wilson (1876 for the
carrot vs. stick metaphor, 1949 for "carrot on a stick")...

well, that's pretty impressive.  like, a 73-year difference.  even
granting that the gap might be narrowed by further research, the
history looks pretty clear: "carrot on a stick" is a reanalysis.  an
ingenious one, of course, but eggcorns are like that.

(i myself have a recollection of a carrot-on-stick cartoon, but even as
a child i thought it was a take-off on the familiar saying.)

thanks to you all.


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