Quid pro quo


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Quid pro quo'?

Something given in return for a item of equivalent value – like tit for tat.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Quid pro quo'?

A Latin term meaning ‘something for something’ or ‘this for that’. The idea is more commonly expressed in English as ‘one good turn deserves another‘.

It has been in use in the English speaking world since the 16th century. An early example of it in print is found in Erasmus’ Lytle Treatise Maner & Forme of Confession, 1535:

Poticaries and phisions do more greuously offende, than do these persones now rehersed, which haue a prouerbe amonge them, quid pro quo, one thynge for another.

Trend of quid pro quo in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.