What does the expression "being drug up on the carpet and then run up the mast" mean and where did it come from? It could very well be the person who said it made it up on the spot.

  • 1
    Have you Googled it? Can you cite the source, too?
    – Kris
    Mar 29, 2014 at 6:04
  • @Kris I have Googled it and there were no explanations.
    – Celeritas
    Mar 29, 2014 at 8:05
  • 1
    And no source either? Mar 29, 2014 at 12:44
  • It is an unbelievably badly written mess, trying to combine two idioms; the person who wrote it didn't know either of them and is basically clueless on many fronts :)
    – Fattie
    Mar 30, 2014 at 7:30

2 Answers 2


"being drug up on the carpet and then run up the mast"

It's a fine example of mangled idioms. I take it "drug up" is the writer's own way of saying "dragged up". He's probably thinking of "being dragged before the boss", but he's combined that vague thought with the phrase "on the carpet", which is used about people in trouble with their superiors. Not content with that, he progresses to an image of someone being "run up the mast" (picture it if you can). The only things that are actually run up the mast are flags or sails, and the popular phrase is exclusively used about the first. This is likely an exercise in free association, where the writer is thinking of "hanging from the yard-arm", but can't remember the exact words, so he latches onto the first substitute with naval overtones that springs to mind.

  • 4
    Drug is a local strong variant of dragged; nothing unusual here. Be (called) on the carpet is an idiom meaning to be scolded or disciplined by a superior. Run X up the mast is an idiom meaning to try X in order to see how X works. Both are metaphors. Mar 29, 2014 at 17:59
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    @John Lawler: They certainly are. And the first of them means what I said it means and what you said it means. The second means what you said it means, with the addition of the important detail that makes it work as a metaphor at all—namely, the fact that what goes up the mast is a flag, not a human. Mar 29, 2014 at 19:22
  • Just try to see the difference between metaphorical and idiomatic expressions.
    – Kris
    Mar 30, 2014 at 6:13
  • outstanding explanation, Terp. ("This is likely an exercise in free association..." an incredibly generous description of the writing ;-) )
    – Fattie
    Mar 30, 2014 at 7:32
  • @Kris: I don't know whether your comment was directed at me or John Lawler. But idiom is a very large area, and metaphorical expressions belong within it. In his comment JL has twice used the word "idiom" to describe what he also describes as a "metaphor". I'm quite likely to be found doing the same. Mar 30, 2014 at 13:47

It's two separate idioms combined.

Being dragged up on the carpet (more commonly called on the carpet) usually means being called out on something. In other words, you are being made to answer to an authority for something. The carpet is seemingly a reference to being called into the boss's office where the floor would be carpeted.

Being run up the mast represents a public hanging (mast gives a nautical flavor to it, but the meaning is the same). Idiomatically it means being publicly humiliated or punished.

[Compare this to the similar, but unrelated, run it up the flagpole (and see who salutes it). This means to put it out there and see who agrees.]

Taken together, the two mean that you are being called out on an action, and then being publicly humiliated or punished for that action.

  • The first idiom is called on the carpet, not being drug up or dragged** onto the carpet. Mar 30, 2014 at 14:13
  • @Peter dragged vs called is just a mangling. The meaning is just a little more harsh, but still preserved.
    – David M
    Mar 30, 2014 at 15:14
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    You're right; if the rest of the metaphors hadn't been so mangled, I don't think I would have objected to drug up on the carpet. Mar 30, 2014 at 15:17

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