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v. re·tal·i·at·ed, re·tal·i·at·ing, re·tal·i·ates
To do something in response to an action done to oneself or an associate, especially to attack or injure someone as a response to a hurtful action.
To pay back (an injury) in kind.

[Late Latin retāliāre, retāliāt- : Latin re-, re- + Latin tāliō, punishment in kind; see telə- in Indo-European roots.]

re·tal′i·a′tion n.
re·tal′i·a′tive, re·tal′i·a·to′ry (-ə-tôr′ē) adj.
re·tal′i·a′tor n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.



an eye for an eye A law which sanctions revenge; to repay in kind. This line from Exodus 21:24 is part of a longer passage in which the Lord sets forth the judgments and laws according to which the people are instructed to live. However, this expression may be even older if, as some speculate, it was part of the Code of Hammurabi (approx. 1800 B.c.). The noted resemblances between Hammurabi’s laws and ancient Mosaic laws make this theory plausible.

fight fire with fire To argue or fight with an opponent using his tactics or ground rules; to counter an attack with one of equal intensity. This expression refers to the method used to fight a rapidly spreading forest or grass fire. To control such a fire, a firebreak (an area cleared of trees, grass, and other flammable material) is often created some distance in front of the advancing flames. A backfire may then be set to burn the area between the major fire and the firebreak, thereby containing the fire within a limited area where it can be doused with water or dirt. Thus, fire is literally fought with fire in order to defeat it. In its figurative sense, to fight fire with fire is to contend with someone on his level, using his tactics to defeat him. The expression usually implies a lowering or abandonment of one’s principles.

fix [someone’s] wagon To get even with, avenge; to prevent, interfere with, or destroy another’s success, reputation, or expectations; to injure or kill. This expression may stem from the days of the covered wagons when a person’s entire family, possessions, and livelihood could be contained in one of these vehicles. An unscrupulous and vindictive enemy might “fix” the wagon in such a way as to assure that it would break down, causing injury to and possible destruction of both the wagon and its contents. The related expression fix [someone’s] little red wagon is an updated version, and all the more insidious in its implication of harming a child.

give [someone] a taste of [his] own medicine To pay someone back in his own coin, to requite a wrong in kind; also to give [someone] a dose of [his] own medicine. Use of the expression dates from the late 19th century.

In killing Bob Ollinger the Kid only gave him a dose of his own kind of medicine. (Charles A. Siringo, Riata and Spurs, 1927)

heap coals of fire on [someone’s] head

To repay hostility with kindness; to answer bad treatment with good, supposedly in order to make one’s enemy repent. The allusion is Biblical:

If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee. (Proverbs 25:21-22)

The usual explanation is that the “coals of fire” supposedly melted a person’s “iciness.”

pound of flesh Vengeance; requital. This expression derives from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, in which Shylock agrees to lend money to Antonio only on condition that, if the sum is not repaid on time, he be allowed a pound of Antonio’s flesh in forfeit.

The pound of flesh which I demand of him is dearly bought, ’tis mine, and I will have it. (IV, i)

The expression implies that, while the demanded retribution is justified, the yielding of it would incapacitate or destroy the giver, just as the yielding of a pound of one’s own flesh would certainly have deleterious consequences.

All the other Great Powers want their pound of flesh from Turkey. (Fortnightly Review, January, 1887)

a Roland for an Oliver An eye for an eye, a blow for a blow; retaliation in kind. Roland and Oliver, two of Charlemagne’s paladins, had adventures which were so extraordinarily similar that it was all but impossible to determine which was the more chivalrous. Eventually, the two men met face to face in combat on an island in the Rhine, where, for five days they fought fiercely, with neither gaining an advantage. The bout climaxed when both men met simultaneous untimely deaths.

We resolved to give him a Roland for his Oliver, if he attacked us. (The Life of Neville Frowde, 1773)

serve the same sauce To retaliate in like fashion; to fight fire with fire; to repay in kind.

They serve them with like sauce, requiring death for death. (Richard Eden, The Decade of the New World or West India, 1555)

Variations are serve a sop or taste of the same sauce.

tit for tat Blow for blow, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, reciprocal retaliation.

Fair Traders, Reciprocity men, or believers in the tit-for-tat plan of dealing with other nations. (Daily News, July, 1891)

According to the OED this expression is probably a variation of the earlier tip ‘light blow’ for tap ‘light blow.’

Much greater is the wrong that rewards evil for good, than that which requires tip for tap. (George Gascoigne, Works, 1577)

Other conjectures claim that tit for tat came from the French tant pour tant ‘so much for so much’ or the Dutch dit vor dat ‘this for that.’ Use of the phrase dates from at least 1556.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.retaliation - action taken in return for an injury or offenseretaliation - action taken in return for an injury or offense
getting even, paying back, return - a reciprocal group action; "in return we gave them as good as we got"
vengeance, payback, retribution - the act of taking revenge (harming someone in retaliation for something harmful that they have done) especially in the next life; "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord"--Romans 12:19; "For vengeance I would do nothing. This nation is too great to look for mere revenge"--James Garfield; "he swore vengeance on the man who betrayed him"; "the swiftness of divine retribution"
reprisal - a retaliatory action against an enemy in wartime
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun revenge, repayment, vengeance, reprisal, retribution, tit for tat, an eye for an eye, reciprocation, counterstroke, requital, counterblow, a taste of your own medicine They believe the attack was in retaliation for his death.
"The smallest worm will turn, being trodden on" [William Shakespeare Henry VI, part 3]
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


The act of retaliating:
Idioms: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, like for like , measure for measure .
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
ردٌ بالمِثِل، إنْتِقام
svar í sömu mynt


[rɪˌtælɪˈeɪʃən] N (Mil) → represalias fpl; (= revenge) → represalia f
he sulks as a form of retaliationsu forma de desquitarse es enfurruñarse
in or by way of retaliation (for sth): he was executed in retaliation for a raid on their headquarterslo ejecutaron como represalia por el asalto de su sede
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[rɪˌtæliˈeɪʃən] nreprésailles fpl
in retaliation for → en représailles de, par représailles pour
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nVergeltung f; (in fight also) → Vergeltungsschlag m; (in argument, diplomacy etc) → Konterschlag m; his retaliation was viciouser hat sich auf üble Weise revanchiert; in retaliationzur Vergeltung; that’s my retaliation for what you did to medas ist meine Revanche für das, was Sie mir angetan haben; in retaliation for your unkindnessum mich für Ihre Unfreundlichkeit zu revanchieren; policy of retaliationVergeltungspolitik f
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[rɪˌtælɪˈeɪʃn] nrappresaglie fpl
by way of retaliation, in retaliation → per rappresaglia
in retaliation for → per vendicarsi di
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(rəˈtӕlieit) verb
to do something unpleasant to a person in return for something unpleasant he has done to one. If you insult him, he will retaliate.
reˌtaliˈation noun
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
The meanness and unfairness had brought from Jerry no snarling threat of retaliation, such as he would have offered Lerumie or any other black.
The injuries to Dak Kova had delayed the march so greatly that it was decided to give up the expedition, which was a raid upon a small Thark community in retaliation for the destruction of the incubator, until after the great games, and the entire body of warriors, ten thousand in number, turned back toward Warhoon.
The attempt of Captain Bonneville to rouse the war spirit of the Nez Perces, and prompt them to retaliation, was ardently seconded by Kosato.
This they affirm to be the origin and nature of justice;--it is a mean or compromise, between the best of all, which is to do injustice and not be punished, and the worst of all, which is to suffer injustice without the power of retaliation; and justice, being at a middle point between the two, is tolerated not as a good, but as the lesser evil, and honoured by reason of the inability of men to do injustice.
His formidable apparatus not only suited his instinct of freedom, but perhaps also the design of some terrible retaliation.
This was to be a poignant retaliation upon the officer who had said "mule drivers," and later "mud diggers," for in all the wild graspings of his mind for a unit responsible for his sufferings and commo- tions he always seized upon the man who had dubbed him wrongly.
The latter was unwilling to yield to threats, but his friend dissuaded him from any idea of violent retaliation.
But instead of adopting this course of retaliation, Mrs Jarley, on second thoughts, brought out the suspicious bottle, and ordering glasses to be set forth upon her favourite drum, and sinking into a chair behind it, called her satellites about her, and to them several times recounted, word for word, the affronts she had received.
Nicodemus made a bonfire of Tom's by way of retaliation.
These unjustifiable practices on their part produced severity on the part of the Spaniards toward the subjects of Great Britain which were not more justifiable, because they exceeded the bounds of a just retaliation and were chargeable with inhumanity and cruelty.
They ran to embrace these gentlemen, as if delighted to meet with them; yet they evidently feared some retaliation of their past misconduct, nor were they quite at ease until the pipe of peace had been smoked.
But her reminder that they were in his wife's carriage provoked him to an impulse of retaliation. He would see if she liked his reference to Riviere any better than he liked hers to May!