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It is easy to find a stick to beat a dog proverbial saying, mid 16th century; meaning that it is easy to find reasons to criticize someone who is vulnerable.

stick-and-carrot a method of persuasion combining the threat of punishment with the promise of reward; a carrot dangled in front of a donkey was a proverbial method of tempting the animal to move.

sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me proverbial saying, late 19th century; meaning that verbal attack does no real injury (compare hard words break no bones).

See also big stick, up like a rocket, down like a stick, the short end of the stick.

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