When someone accuses you of wrong doing after you had accused them of something, what do you call that or them?

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    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 20:38
  • It's not one word, but I would call this "Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter-accusations." eoinbutler.com/home/…
    – user124384
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 16:19
  • Related: Can anything be done about mean-spirited requests for terminology?
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 22:13

7 Answers 7


This is a Recrimination:

an angry statement in which you accuse or criticize a person who has accused or criticized you

As Tonepoet mentions in the comments below, one who recriminates is a recriminator. While the definition of recriminator perfectly fits the person you describe, the word's rarity makes me hesitate to recommend making use of it (recrimination is more common).

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    Certainly the answer. Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 18:37
  • Recrimination seems spot on. "They retaliated..." might also fit. Or possibly "It was an act of reprisal" (an act of retaliation).'
    – MarkW
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 6:16
  • That is about as right as right gets. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 15:39
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    @EdwinAshworth A perfect answer, certainly, but not the only answer. Counteraccusation (in Silverfish's answer) is also a perfect fit. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 18:35
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    Note that most people don't realize this is supposed to be its meaning, and just use it to mean "saying nasty things about someone". In most cases I advise people to go with the popular meaning, but in this case I think the literal meaning is so perfect, and the popular meaning close enough, that this is certainly the proper word to use here.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 18:51

It's quite common to see this called exchanging accusations, trading accusations or tit-for-tat accusations (or simply "tit-for-tat"). The word "accusations" can be replaced by "allegations" in any of the previous phrases.

The treasurer’s race turned into a harsh and confrontational battle late in the campaign, with the candidates exchanging allegations of ethical misconduct and claims that their opponent was distorting the truth. — Gregory B. Hladky and Jon Lender, "Nappier Declares Victory In Tight Treasurer's Race; Herbst Concedes", Hartford Courant (5 November 2014)

Allegations that French far-right right MEPs have breached European Parliament rules on hiring assistants have triggered “tit-for-tat” accusations among other MEPs, the director of the EU's anti-fraud agency told journalists on Tuesday (2 June). Giovanni Kessler likened it to the wave of accusations among German politicians that followed a 2011 plagiarism scandal involving the then defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. “They started accusing each other ... This is what is happening in the parliament now”, said Kessler, who is director general of the European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf). — Peter Teffer, "MEPs trade fraud allegations over assistants", EU Observer (2 June 2015)

A phase for the process of exchanging accusations about who is at fault for a specific event is blame game, whereas in the previous phrases the two accusations may not be linked.

blame game: accusations exchanged among people who refuse to accept sole responsibility for some undesirable event — The Free Dictionary

A good word for the allegation that has been made in response is a counter-allegation (often written without the hyphen):

Prosecutors may often be presented with conflicting accounts of the incident, with each party claiming to be the victim. The defendant may make a counter-allegation of abuse or violence, or argue that s/he acted in self defence, making it difficult to identify and distinguish between the victim and offender. — "The prosecution of domestic violence cases", Crown Prosecution Service (2014)

There is also counter-accusation:

The latest events have brought accusation and counter-accusation. Kyiv blamed pro-Russian protesters for attacking pro-Ukrainians. “The provocations that happened in Odessa causing clashes and many victims were the result of outside interference. They were financed by former members of the government of (deposed president Viktor) Yanukovych,” said Kateryna Kosareva,spokeswoman for the Ukrainian Security Service. A spokesman for the Kremlin blamed Kyiv and what he called its “Western sponsors”. — "Ukraine and Russia blame each other for deadly violence in Odessa ", Euronews (3 May 2014)


In more colloquial terms you might say that you are passing the buck, laying the blame, or deflecting criticism.

While these phrases CAN be applied to the described situation, they don't inherently imply that you are accusing the person who directly accused you (A blames B, so B blames A), and can be used in situations where A blames B, so B blames C. They also typically imply that that A's accusation against B is invalid or less severe due to whatever B is accusing C of.


Just because it happens to "you", doesn't imply anything wether it is "rightful" or not.

How about two words: counter-accusations

What oten happens when one party is accused, more skeletons starts falling out of the closets, rightfully or not.


This is sometimes called the tu quoque fallacy.

  • Not exactly. The "tu quoque fallacy" is claiming that an argument is invalid because the arguer does not act in accordance with their conclusions. What OP is looking for is not a fallacy at all.
    – Max
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 19:09
  • Is that called hypocrisy, in layman's terms?
    – Alex W
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 19:20

Aurast's answer describes the statement, but you might describe the person as vindictive:

having or showing a strong or unreasoning desire for revenge.

"the criticism was both vindictive and personalized"

synonyms: vengeful, revengeful, unforgiving, resentful, acrimonious, bitter; spiteful, mean, rancorous, venomous, malicious, malevolent, nasty, mean-spirited, cruel, unkind


Character assassination to deflect criticism.

  • Please quote a dictionary definition of "character assassination" to support your answer (mention which dictionary you're quoting). Or find some other way to justify this answer.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 15:01

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