Fight fire with fire


      • fight back
        To respond to an attack or aggression with a similar or equally forceful action, often as a means of self-defense or retaliation

      • use a similar tactic
        To use the same methods or strategies as one's opponent in order to defeat them or achieve a similar result

      • escalate a situation
        To exacerbate a conflict or problem by responding to it in the same manner, rather than trying to find a peaceful solution

    Examples of Fight fire with fire

    • When Sarah's ex-boyfriend started spreading malicious rumors about her, she decided to fight fire with fire by spreading some rumors of her own about him.

      The idiom "fight fire with fire" means to use the same tactics or methods as your opponent in order to counter their actions. In this example, Sarah is using the same strategy as her ex-boyfriend by spreading rumors, in order to combat the negative impact of his rumors on her reputation.

    • The political candidate's opponents accused him of being too soft on certain issues, so he fought fire with fire by attacking his opponents' records and highlighting their weaknesses.

      In this example, the candidate is using the same aggressive tactics as his opponents in order to defend himself and turn the tables on them.

    • When the company's marketing team faced a crisis due to negative publicity, they decided to fight fire with fire by launching a bold and aggressive advertising campaign to counter the negative image.

      In this example, the company is using the same bold and aggressive tactics as their opponents (the negative publicity) in order to combat the negative impact on their reputation and regain control of the narrative.

    • The team's coach realized that the opposing team was using dirty tactics to gain an advantage, so he decided to fight fire with fire by encouraging his players to play rough and use similar tactics.

      In this example, the coach is using the same dirty tactics as the opposing team in order to level the playing field and give his team a chance to win.

    • When the author's book received negative reviews, she decided to fight fire with fire by responding to the critics with a bold and aggressive defense of her work.

      In this example, the author is using the same bold and aggressive tactics as her critics in order to defend her work and counter the negative impact of the reviews.


    The phrase "fight fire with fire" is often used to describe a situation where someone is responding to an attack or aggression with an equally forceful action. It can also refer to using the same tactics or strategies as one's opponent in order to defeat them. In both cases, the intention is to fight back or defend oneself, but it can also lead to a further escalation of the situation.

    Origin of "Fight fire with fire"

    The origin of the idiom "fight fire with fire" can be traced back to ancient Rome, where Roman philosopher and military strategist, Marcus Tullius Cicero, wrote in his book "De Officiis" that "fire is fought with fire." This was meant to convey the idea that sometimes a strong or aggressive response is needed in order to combat a dangerous or threatening situation.

    The phrase was later popularized in the 19th century by American author and abolitionist, Henry David Thoreau, in his essay "Civil Disobedience." Thoreau used the phrase to describe the use of nonviolent resistance against an oppressive government, comparing it to fighting fire with fire.

    Over time, the idiom has evolved to have a more general meaning of responding to aggression or conflict with a similar force or tactic. It is often used in a figurative sense, rather than a literal one, and can be applied to a variety of situations, from personal conflicts to political disputes.