tit for tat

See more synonyms for tit for tat on Thesaurus.com

Origin of tit for tat

First recorded in 1550–60; perhaps variant of earlier tip for tap
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for tit for tat

equivalent, trade-off

Examples from the Web for tit for tat

Contemporary Examples of tit for tat

Historical Examples of tit for tat

  • This was exactly the sort of "tit-for-tat" humor that appeals to a Yankee crowd.

    Cy Whittaker's Place

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Don't you remember my father calling it the Battle of Tit-for-Tat?

  • It was therefore but tit-for-tat when Minos sent Athenian tributary boys and girls to fight his bull, the bullheaded Minotaur.

  • He had declared war against Bence; henceforth, he vowed, the tit-for-tat policy should be pursued with implacable thoroughness.

    Mrs. Thompson

    William Babington Maxwell

  • Was she saying to herself that this was tit-for-tat; a riposte for his "Sibyl" of their talk in the morning?

    It Never Can Happen Again

    William De Morgan


British Dictionary definitions for tit for tat

tit for tat

noun
  1. an equivalent given in return or retaliation; blow for blow

Word Origin for tit for tat

C16: from earlier tip for tap
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for tit for tat

1550s, possibly an alteration of tip for tap "blow for blow," from tip (v.3) "tap" + tap "touch lightly." Perhaps infl. by tit (n.2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tit for tat in Culture

tit for tat

Giving back exactly what one receives: “If you hit me, I'll do the same to you; it's tit for tat.”

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 tit for tat

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