Where Did The Phrase "call On The Carpet" Come From?

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Where Did The Phrase "call On The Carpet" Come From?
Where Did The Phrase "call On The Carpet" Come From?
Video: Where Did The Phrase "call On The Carpet" Come From?
Video: What does call on the carpet mean? 2023, February

The phraseological phrase "call on the carpet" thrills any employee. This expression implies that the subordinate should immediately report to the boss in the office, and not at all to hear thanksgiving speeches.

Calling on the carpet is an unpleasant conversation with your boss
Calling on the carpet is an unpleasant conversation with your boss

The expression "call on the carpet" is used most often in an ironic sense, but its meaning is very serious: to call a subordinate into the office for a reprimand. At first glance, it may seem that its origin is not in doubt.

Folk etymology

If the “carpet” exists in a phraseological turnover, it means that somewhere and once it should have really existed.

Most often, the meaning of this phrase is associated with those very real carpets with which the floors in the director's offices are laid. In this or that organization, be it a factory or a school, there may not be carpets in any room, but in the director's office there will be a carpet. Therefore, initially, “to summon to the carpet” is simply to “summon to the chief’s office”.

At first glance, this hypothesis seems logical. But it does not explain the negative connotation that this expression has acquired. After all, the boss does not always call the subordinate into the office in order to reprimand!

Another popular explanation is the association with wrestling mat. This version is consistent with the concept of conflict contained in this expression, but an unpleasant conversation between a boss and a subordinate least of all resembles a fight between fighters; here it is more appropriate to talk about the situation of an aggressor and a victim.

So, looking for a clue in modern realities is useless, it would be wiser to turn to history.

History of phraseological units

For the answer to the question about the origin of this phraseological unit, you will have to go to medieval Poland.

The Polish king at that time had almost no power. The real power was possessed by Polish magnates - nobles, large feudal lords, as well as gentry, representing the "top" of the Polish nobility.

Such a picture as a whole was typical for Europe in the era of feudal fragmentation, when the king, from the point of view of the feudal lords, could only count on the position of "first among equals", but the West was far from Poland. Here the power of the tycoons was truly unlimited. Any person could be punished with whips on the order of the magnate, an exception was not made even for noblemen who did not occupy such a high position.

But if no one stood on ceremony with a simple city dweller or peasant, then the situation with the nobles was more complicated. In the Middle Ages, a person was perceived as a representative of a certain class. By humiliating the nobleman, the magnate would thereby humiliate the nobility to which he himself belonged, this would damage his honor. Therefore, the magnate, even subjecting the gentry to humiliating punishment, had to honor him. The nobleman was flogged, having laid a carpet for him, and after the punishment the tycoon had to drink with him on an equal footing.

Thus, from the outset, the expression “summoned to the carpet” implies lashing, albeit in a privileged position.

One can only regret that modern bosses, "calling on the carpet" subordinates, do not always remember about honor. However, they, fortunately, do not practice punishment with lashes either.

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