eye for an eye, an

Idioms & Phrases

eye for an eye, an

Punishment in which the offender suffers what the victim has suffered, exact retribution, as in Joe believed in an eye for an eye; stealing his client would have to be avenged. This idiom is a quotation from the Bible, which has "Life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Deuteronomy 19:21); the idea is contradicted in the New Testament (see turn the other cheek).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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