tit for tat

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Origin uncertain: conjectured to be related to "dit voor dat" - Dutch for "this for that", "tip for tap" (i.e. a blow for a blow), or French "tant pour tant" (equal for equal) - The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms - Eds. Elizabeth McLaren Kirkpatrick, Catherine M. Schwarz, 1993


tit for tat ‎(plural tit for tats)

  1. (idiomatic) equivalent retribution, an eye for an eye, returning exactly what you get.
    If you hit me, I'll hit you back; tit for tat.
  2. (Cockney rhyming slang) hat.



tit for tat ‎(not comparable)

  1. Having the characteristic of returning bad for bad.
    Unfortunately, many adults retain a tit-for-tat attitude, but in a more refined way than the simple, childish shove for shove.
    • From The Guardian June, 22 2007.
      Amid fears that the end to more than five and a half years of talks would lead to a new era of tit-for-tat protectionism, negotiations between the United States and the European Union broke down.

Usage notes[edit]

As an adjective, tit-for-tat uses hyphens.

Derived terms[edit]