What is a good adage for saying one thing matches another in quality? For example, I want to say someone rude deserves to be treated accordingly and just as rudely and without respect.

  • 1
    I disagree with the proposed dupe. Someone getting what they deserve (e.g. a thief getting sent to prison) is not the same as someone getting back the sort of thing they dish out.
    – AndyT
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 15:07

5 Answers 5


What's sauce for the goose (is sauce for the gander).

What's sauce for the goose (is sauce for the gander). (British, American & Australian old-fashioned) ...

something that you say to suggest that if a particular type of behaviour is acceptable for one person, it should also be acceptable for another person:

If your husband can go out with his friends, then surely you can go out with yours. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

[Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed.]

Wikipedia gives an extended article, starting

There's an old saying, "What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." This meshes well with the Golden Rule, or ethic of reciprocity, which is a key moral principle in many religions and philosophies, and is often stated as "Do unto others as you wish to be done for you", or conversely, "Don't do unto others what you would not wish to be done to you."

An example of the 'be done by as you did' (tit for tat) usage:

If you’re going to punish me for watching too much television, then you should punish Geetha, too. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

[English with Sunil_wordpress.com]

  • You reap what you sow [TFD]

    something that you say which means everything that happens to you is a result of your own actions If you treat your friends like that, of course they drop you. You reap what you sow in this life.

  • What goes around, comes around [TFD]

    Prov. The results of things that one has done will someday have an effect on the person who started the events. So he finally gets to see the results of his activities. What goes around, comes around. Now he is the victim of his own policies. Whatever goes around comes around.

  • You get what you pay for [TFD]

    Prov. Cliché If you do not pay much money for something, it is probably of poor quality.; If you pay well for something, it is more likely to be of good quality

  • 1
    "You get what you pay for" - I don't think this is appropriate for this question; it would be appropriate for Rathony's proposed dupe (which I disagree is a dupe).
    – AndyT
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 15:09
  • Fair enough. I hesitated but decided to include it because it fits the quality aspect of the question, although it wouldn't fit the example.
    – 0xFEE1DEAD
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 15:12
  • Fair enough. I +1d anyway, as "what goes around comes around" is a great answer.
    – AndyT
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 15:19

Get one's just deserts may convey the idea you are referring to:

  • to get what one deserves. I feel better now that Jane got her just deserts. She really insulted me.

(McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs)


tit for tat: (disapproving) ​

  • actions done intentionally to punish other people because they have done something unpleasant to you:
    • I noticed she didn't send me a card - I think it was tit for tat because I forgot her birthday last year.

Cambridge Dictionary


This should help: give someone a dose (or taste) of their own medicine

Your example would then be:

someone rude deserves to be given a taste of their own medicine


medicine Phrases
give someone a dose (or taste) of their own medicine
Give someone the same bad treatment that they have given to others.
‘tired of his humiliation of me, I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine’


an eye for an eye (and a tooth for a tooth)

the idea that a person who causes another person to suffer should suffer in an equal amount


something that you say which means if someone does something wrong, they should be punished by having the same thing done to them

(the Free Dictionary)

"An eye for an eye", or the law of retaliation, is the principle that a person who has injured another person is to be penalized to a similar degree


Or just the law of retribution, as from the above reference.

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