An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to describe revenge? If so, you could use the saying, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this biblical proverb.

Meaning

The meaning of the proverbial expression, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” is that there is a reaction to a discretion equal to the original offense or crime. It’s a saying referring to taking revenge on someone that did you wrong.

Example Usage

“The guy ended up killing the man that was sleeping with his wide. You know what they say, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth makes the world blind and toothless.”

“Yeah, you think you got away with it, but I’ll wait to take my revenge. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

“Revenge is a dish best served cold; what you did to me I will do to you. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

“I can’t believe they would do that to our reputation right in front of the investors. We’ll make sure they don’t get on board with them either. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. “

“Why do you want to take revenge on something that’s only going to get you in more trouble? Didn’t anyone ever tell you that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is a bad strategy?”

Origin

The origin of the expression, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, comes from the ancient Mesopotamian Empire. The phrase appears in the time of Hammurabi’s rule during the 18th century BC.

According to Hammurabi’s code, “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” is a part of the natural behavior of a man that requires suppression if he wants to remain above the beasts.

“If a man has destroyed the eye of a man of the gentleman class, they shall destroy his eye.”

The book of Deuteronomy 19:21 has the expression as follows.

“Life shall go for life, eye for an eye, tooth for tooth.”

Phrases Similar to An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth

  • Tit for tat.
  • Eye for an eye.
  • What goes around comes around.

Phrases Opposite to An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth

  • Leave it alone.
  • A non-violent approach.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Ways People May Say It Incorrectly

The saying has nothing to do with eyes or teeth. It’s a proverbial saying describing acts of revenge. Using the expression to describe minor digressions between friends would be the improper use of the phrase; it only suits situations where the consequences are severe. If you’re looking for a similar expression to describe minor issues, rather go with “tit for tat.”

Acceptable Ways to Phrase It

You can use the phrase “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” when you’re describing acts of vengeance. It could serve as a warning to another person to prevent them from hastily acting in anger and regretting later repercussions. You could say the expression to someone who did a bad deed to you, expressing that you plan to take revenge for their transgressions against you.

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