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tit for tat

noun
1.
with an equivalent given in retaliation, as a blow for a blow, repartee, etc.:
He answered their insults tit for tat.
Origin of tit for tat
1550-1560
1550-60; perhaps variant of earlier tip for tap
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for tit-for-tat
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had declared war against Bence; henceforth, he vowed, the tit-for-tat policy should be pursued with implacable thoroughness.

    Mrs. Thompson William Babington Maxwell
  • Mr. Stanges play was an amusing comedy, dealing with domestic infelicityof the tit-for-tat orderin the old style.

  • Don't you remember my father calling it the Battle of tit-for-tat?

    Evan Harrington, Complete George Meredith
  • This was exactly the sort of "tit-for-tat" humor that appeals to a Yankee crowd.

    Cy Whittaker's Place Joseph C. Lincoln
  • It was therefore but tit-for-tat when Minos sent Athenian tributary boys and girls to fight his bull, the bullheaded Minotaur.

    The World of Homer Andrew Lang
  • She had always been ready with her tit-for-tat, or lifting of her hand in soft remonstrance at his youthful levity.

    Perlycross R. D. Blackmore
  • Was she saying to herself that this was tit-for-tat; a riposte for his "Sibyl" of their talk in the morning?

    It Never Can Happen Again William De Morgan
  • It requires some study to make out who is the speaker in the tit-for-tat of the dialogue.

    Unwritten Literature of Hawaii Nathaniel Bright Emerson
British Dictionary definitions for tit-for-tat

tit for tat

noun
1.
an equivalent given in return or retaliation; blow for blow
Word Origin
C16: from earlier tip for tap
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tit-for-tat

tit for tat

1550s, possibly an alteration of tip for tap "blow for blow," from tip (v.3) "tap" + tap "touch lightly." Perhaps infl. by tit (n.2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tit-for-tat in Culture

tit for tat definition


Giving back exactly what one receives: “If you hit me, I'll do the same to you; it's tit for tat.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with tit-for-tat

tit for tat

Repayment in kind, retaliation, as in If he won't help with the beach clean-up, I won't run a booth at the bake sale; that's tit for tat. This term is believed to be a corruption of tip for tap, which meant “a blow for a blow.” Its current form dates from the mid-1500s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Difficulty index for tit for tat

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Word Value for tit

3
3
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