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fight fire with fire

Meaning: If you fight fire with fire in a conflict or a contest, you use the same methods or "weapons" as your opponent.

For example:

  • The companies we compete against started spending a lot on advertising, so we had to fight fire with fire and also spend a lot in order to keep our market share.

  • If someone attacks me by bringing up problems I had in the past, I'll fight fire with fire and do the same by finding out things about their past.

Origin: Probably related to the fact that forest fires are often fought by using a controlled fire to burn off an area in the path of the fire. This starves it of material to burn, and makes it easier to put out.

Quick Quiz:

Our football players were sick of being kicked by the other team, so they decided to fight fire with fire and they
  1. tried to win by playing fair
  2. had the other team's manager fired
  3. kicked them back

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