quid pro quo
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MORE ABOUT QUID PRO QUO
What does quid pro quo mean?
Tit for tat. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Or, if you want to get a little fancier, quid pro quo.
This is a Latin-derived expression referring to something done for someone in exchange for something of equal value in return.
Where does quid pro quo come from?
In Latin, quid pro quo literally means “something for something” or “one thing for another.”
The expression was notably used in the Middle Ages by apothecaries who were figuring out what substances may be substituted for another (quid pro quo) in medicines. The phrase was added to a 1535 English translation of Dutch humanist Erasmus, who apparently questioned the questionable quid-pro-quoing of these quacks.
By the late 1500s, quid pro quo spread from medicine into general contexts for a “tit for tat.” A 17th century history on the reign of King Charles, for instance, described Christianity as a quid pro quo in that people must repent for redemption.
Since the late 20th century in labor law, quid pro quo is widely used as a name for a type of workplace sexual harassment in which an employer holds an employee’s job hostage in return for sexual favors.
How is quid pro quo used in real life?
Quid pro quo can be used as a noun (e.g., we have a quid pro quo with our landlord) or as a modifier (e.g., we have a quid pro quo deal with our client). Either way, the phrase is used in everyday speech and writing generally to mean “trade,” “exchange,” or “agreement.”
More examples of quid pro quo:
“Police investigators rolled into the Prime Minister’s Residence Tuesday morning to interrogate Benjamin Netanyahu in the high-profile Bezeq graft probe, having acquired new evidence from a key state’s witness reportedly implicating him in an illicit quid pro quo deal.”
—Raoul Wootliff, The Times of Israel, June, 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
How to use quid pro quo in a sentence
The government defends the law as necessary to prevent the appearance of quid pro quo corruption.Supreme Court will hear Ted Cruz’s challenge of campaign contribution limit|Robert Barnes|September 30, 2021|Washington Post
Washington can’t always tell folks beyond the Beltway what to do, but it can still get results through quid pro quo.‘Defund the Police’ Was a Catchy Slogan. It’s Also Why a Policing Bill Fell Apart|Philip Elliott|September 23, 2021|Time
Similar accusations against the bloc of school board members were levied in the ethics reports, which accused them of steering contracts, doing political favors and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union.After flawed ethics reports on Prince George’s school board, parents and activists seek investigation|Rachel Chason, Donna St. George|August 27, 2021|Washington Post
The reports accuse a majority of elected school board members of a variety of offenses, including steering contracts, doing political favors and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union.Error-riddled ethics reports on school board create political firestorm in Prince George’s County|Rachel Chason, Donna St. George|August 24, 2021|Washington Post
At worst, it opens the door to backroom quid pro quo to water down important legislation.I Won’t Accept Police Union Endorsements — and Neither Should Anyone Else|Joel Day|June 24, 2021|Voice of San Diego
That Stone would slander the democratic, pro-Western, EuroMaidan revolution as a CIA coup is no surprise.
When the problem is already political, when the intolerable situation is the status quo?Cover-Ups and Concern Trolls: Actually, It's About Ethics in Suicide Journalism|Arthur Chu|January 3, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Defenders of the status quo claim the old rules protect consumers.Why Do ‘Progressives’ Want to Ban Uber and AirBnB?|Adam Thierer, Christopher Koopman|December 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But failing that, he advised pro-immigration reform Republican candidates such as former Gov. Jeb Bush to just skip the state.Can This Republican Bring the GOP Back to Its Senses on Immigration?|Tim Mak|December 29, 2014|DAILY BEAST
How did you make the transition from pro surfer to modeling?Anastasia Ashley, Surfer-Cum-Model, Rides The Viral Internet Wave|James Joiner|December 23, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Postrem quid nobis effectum hactenus, seu potis quid attentatum sit ad diuinam gloriam.
In addition, the currency notes of the Government served in the place pro tanto of the Bank of England notes.Readings in Money and Banking|Chester Arthur Phillips
“Lecompton” constitution of Kansas was a pro-slavery document which Buchanan favoured.Assimilative Memory|Marcus Dwight Larrowe (AKA Prof. A. Loisette)
Nos duo Societate tuguriolum habemus ligneum, in quo vix posit mens commouere nos possumus.
Nam Sacerdos ille, qui huc ante nos aduenerat, nostro statim adutu in Galliam sua ipse sponte & pro veteri desiderio remigrauit.
British Dictionary definitions for quid pro quo
Word Origin for quid pro quo
Cultural definitions for quid pro quo
A fair exchange; the phrase is most frequently used in diplomacy: “The Chinese may make some concessions on trade, but they will no doubt demand a quid pro quo, so we must be prepared to make concessions too.” From Latin, meaning “something for something.”
Other Idioms and Phrases with quid pro quo
An equal exchange or substitution, as in I think it should be quid pro quo—you mow the lawn and I'll take you to the movies. This Latin expression, meaning “something for something,” has been used in English since the late 1500s.