Tit for tat

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Grammarist

Tit for tat is an interesting idiom that means a response in kind, retaliation,  counterattack. Tit for tat may be used as a noun or as an adjective. When used as an adjective, tit-for-tat is hyphenated. The phrase tit for tat is thought to have derived from the Middle English term tip for tap, which means blow for blow or exchanging insult for insult. The very old meaning of the words tip and tap is hit, light touch. In twentieth century Cockney rhyming slang, titfer means hat, derived from the rhyme tit-for, tit-for-tat, that is, hat. The slang use of titfer for hat was made popular by the cockney-style British comedian, Tommy Trinder.

Examples
Tit For Tat: Russia Expels Swedish Diplomat, Blames Sweden For ‘Unfriendly Act’ (The International Business Times)

But they stoop to low levels and claim that it is tit for tat or “freedom of speech.” (The Standard Examiner)

“This is tit for tat — the Malaysians won’t give vital evidence to France, they won’t cooperate,” said Mr Hansford. (The Australia News)

Sweden expels Russian diplomat, Moscow makes tit-for-tat move (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Cong, BJP playing tit-for-tat politics: TMC (The Business Standard)

Drivers caught in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana’s tit-for-tat war (The Times of India)

They learned how to predict tit-for-tat violence and sometimes closed off whole streets to prevent retaliatory racial attacks. (The Boston Globe)

He and the American sprinter Richard Browne are engaged in a tit-for-tat, record-breaking and very personal rivalry that invests their every meeting with drama. (The Telegraph)

Rather than countering propaganda with truth as many have proposed, including members of Poroshenko’s own Presidential Administration, Ukraine’s attempts to hijack a chunk of the information space has already become evident, as comments on international news site has diminished to a tit-for-tat battle between Russian and Ukrainian trolls. (The Huffington Post)

Want to know more idioms? Check out some others we covered:

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