“Fight Fire with Fire” Meaning, Origin and Useful Examples

Last Updated on March 19, 2021

During a conversation in English, you may have heard people use the term ‘fight fire with fire.’ But what is the meaning of this saying and where did it come from in the first place? We will answer these questions and look at how the term can be used in conversations.

Fight Fire with Fire

“Fight Fire with Fire” Meaning

The meaning of ‘fight fire with fire’ is that if someone is attacking you using a certain method, that you should retaliate using the same method.

Origin of this Idiom

The term ‘fight fire with fire’ can originally be dated back to the 1800s and comes from a fire-fighting technique which was used by the pioneers. The fire fighters were known to light a smaller fire in front of an approaching prairie fire in order to control it.

Other Ways to Say the Idiom

There are plenty of other ways that you can express the meaning of the term ‘fight fire with fire.’

Here are some examples of things you could say.

  • Fight evil with evil
  • Play them at their own game

“Fight Fire with Fire” Examples

Examples in Statements

Here is a statement made by someone who is advising another person about an attack.

  • ‘If he is going to use that harsh tactic against you, you have no choice but to fight fire with fire.’

A statement made by someone to describe how they are going to respond to something.

  • ‘John kept stealing my sandwich from the fridge, so I’ve started taking his things, he’s left me no choice but to fight fire with fire.’

Conversation Examples

If you are wondering how you can use the idiomatic term ‘fight fire with fire’ in a conversation, here are some examples of how you might do that.

The first example conversation shows someone talking about how they are going to retaliate to a situation.

  • Person 1: “My boyfriend keeps cheating on me, I’m so sick of it.”
  • Person 2: “Why don’t you do it back to him, see how he likes it.”
  • Person 1: “Yes, I’ll fight fire with fire, I might stand a chance of getting through to him that way.”

This conversation shows two people discussing a boxing match and the player’s new tactics.

  • Person 1: “Ben and Dave have arranged another boxing match.”
  • Person 2: “But Dave fought really unfairly last time.”
  • Person 1: “Yes and this time, Ben is going to fight fire with fire.”

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