an eye for an eye


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.”

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notes for an eye for an eye

Jesus referred to this principle in the Sermon on the Mount, calling on his followers to turn the other cheek instead.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with an eye for an eye (1 of 2)

an eye for an eye

see eye for an eye.

Idioms and Phrases with an eye for an eye (2 of 2)

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® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.