call on the carpet

Idioms & Phrases

call on the carpet

Summon for a scolding or rebuke, as in Suspecting a leak to the press, the governor called his press secretary on the carpet. This term began as on the carpet, which in the early 1700s referred to a cloth (carpet) covering a conference table and therefore came to mean "under consideration or discussion." In 19th-century America, however, carpet meant "floor covering," and the expression, first recorded in 1902, alluded to being called before or reprimanded by a person rich or powerful enough to have a carpet.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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