In Reply to: Tit for tat posted by Stephen on January 16, 2009 at 10:19:
: What does the saying "Tit for tat is fair play" mean? And where was it derived? We Chinese have a saying goes that "We will not attack unless we are attacked; if we are attacked, we will certainly counter-attack." Do these two sayings mean the same?
"Payment in kind; precise retaliation. Most authorities believe this expression was a corruption of 'tip for tap,' meaning 'a blow for a blow.' It was already in its current form in the sixteenth century..." From "Facts on File Dictionary of Cliches," second edition, edited by Christine Ammer, Checkmark Books, New York, 2006. Page 443.
The way I've heard the expression used: He gave tit for tat. Yes, I believe "tit for tat" would apply to the scenario you presented. But, in my opinion, "tit for tat" more closely applies to a trivial situation. As I said, just the way it sounds to me.