tit for tat

Idioms & Phrases

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