What do you call a person who advocates the use, against an enemy, of methods borrowed from that enemy, or applies the same moral standards as the enemy does or otherwise copies the enemy's behavior or techniques?

  • 2
    Most answers here don't seem to address the actual question – what the person advocating such an approach is called.
    – Zano
    Dec 15, 2011 at 11:23

3 Answers 3


Depending on context, the word reciprocity or tit-for-tat is used for that approach, most usually, however, not in a negative sense. An advocate for that could in theory be called a reciprocitist, but it's not a very common usage of that term.


A judo throw uses the opponent's momentum against him.

From Shakespeare's Hamlet, the phrase hoisted by his own petard has entered into common usage.

There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,
They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar; and 't shall go hard

The meaning is less like using the enemy's techniques against him and more like the enemy being caught with his own techniques.

Fighting fire with fire is another phrase.

Sorry, I don't have any single-word phrases, but perhaps one of these colorful metaphors will do.

  • I don't think "hoisted by one's own petard" would apply to the OP's question. It is used when the strategy one uses to hurt one's enemy ends up hurting oneself.
    – Julia
    Dec 15, 2011 at 18:12
  • @Julia, I agree with you, which is why I said it's "more like the enemy being caught with his own techniques."
    – rajah9
    Dec 16, 2011 at 15:20
  • @ rajah9, Agreed, I just didn't want the OP to think that would work for their question.
    – Julia
    Dec 17, 2011 at 21:29

The strategy is called 'giving them a dose of their own medicine'. It's assumed that this will be unpleasant rather than restorative. I don't know a term for someone advocating this strategy.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.