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Quid Pro Quo

November 16, 2021

Quid Pro Quo /ˌkwid ˌprō ˈkwō/ noun 

Definition: When you mention that something is a quid pro quo, it refers to something that you get in return for doing something or giving something to someone else. The term quid pro quo can also refer to the deal or arrangement itself.

In a legal context, quid pro quo often refers to an illegal exchange, such as a company bribing a government official.

Etymology: The Latin phrase literally means “something for something.” Originally used in the mid-1500s, it had a medical indication, referring to switching one medicine for another that treats the same condition. This use did not really continue, though. 

About 30 years later, it was used in a legal document with the modern definition and has stayed in use fairly consistently since. It once had a meaning related to someone pretending to be something that they are not, but that use died out over 300 years ago.

In a Sentence

If we ask him to ensure we get the contract, he will expect a quid pro quo.

I will cook dinner, and you clean the kitchen – quid pro quo.

We try to embrace giving and kindness in our organization, and we are strictly anti-quid pro quo.


Exchange, Trade-off, Favor-for-a-Favor


Gratuitous, Pro bono, Altruistic


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