To keep someone honest

Posted by TheFallen on May 09, 2002

In Reply to: To keep someone honest posted by Kim Metzger on May 09, 2002

: I'd be interested in hearing some opinions on the meaning of the above phrase.

I've usually heard and used this to refer to an incentive, either pleasant or unpleasant, that one holds over someone to ensure that he or she performs a task well and without any adverse trickery or connivance. So, if a salesman's commission is paid on profit margin, rather than turn-over, that's a way of semi-ensuring that he does his best for the company bottom line, rather than racking up lots of near zero-profit sales, and so "keeps him honest".