an eye for an eye

Cultural Dictionary

an eye for an eye definition


The principle of justice that requires punishment equal in kind to the offense (not greater than the offense, as was frequently given in ancient times). Thus, if someone puts out another's eye, one of the offender's eyes should be put out. The principle is stated in the Book of Exodus as “Thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

Note: Jesus referred to this principle in the Sermon on the Mount, calling on his followers to turn the other cheek instead.
American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

eye definition


The organ of sight. Some of its parts are the cornea, iris, lens, optic nerve, pupil, and retina.

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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