car·​rot-and-stick ˌker-ət-ᵊn-ˈstik How to pronounce carrot-and-stick (audio)
: characterized by the use of both reward and punishment to induce cooperation
carrot-and-stick foreign policy
the carrot-and-stick style of sales management

Examples of carrot-and-stick in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But all of those potential costs are outweighed by the need to avoid a devastating two-front war. FROM BAD TO WORSE Israel has long believed that its military strength and carrot-and-stick diplomacy could deter Hamas. James F. Jeffrey, Foreign Affairs, 28 Oct. 2023 President Joe Biden's administration insisted that its carrot-and-stick approach of expanding legal routes while imposing more punitive measures on those who enter illegally is working. Compiled By Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 19 Aug. 2023 Monday at the Texas Capitol illustrated the carrot-and-stick approach from the Legislature toward public education this legislative session. Edward McKinley, San Antonio Express-News, 13 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'carrot-and-stick.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


from the traditional alternatives of driving a donkey on by either holding out a carrot or whipping it with a stick

First Known Use

1876, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of carrot-and-stick was in 1876

Dictionary Entries Near carrot-and-stick

Cite this Entry

“Carrot-and-stick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

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