what does quid pro quo mean
quid pro quo
ˌkwɪd prəʊ ˈkwəʊ/
a favour or advantage granted in return for something.
“the pardon was a quid pro quo for their help in releasing hostages”
synonyms: exchange, trade, trade-off, swap, switch, barter, substitute, substitution, reciprocity, reciprocation, return, payment, remuneration, amends, compensation, indemnity, recompense, restitution, reparation, satisfaction; rarerequital
“a congressman’s support for the president on a particular issue may not represent a straightforward quid pro quo”
Quid pro quo (“something for something” or “this for that” in Latin) means an exchange of goods or services, where one transfer is contingent upon the other. English speakers often use the term to mean “a favour for a favour”; phrases with similar meaning include: “give and take”, “tit for tat”, and “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours”.
Ambrose Bierce in his Devil’s Dictionary defines:
Influence AB. A pun on the Latin expression quid pro quo, meaning an equal exchange (this for that), and the British word quid, meaning a pound sterling.
— Ambrose Bierce, The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary
Elsewhere (since Bierce wrote different definitions depending on which newspaper he was working for) he defined it:
Influence, n. In politics, a visionary quo given in exchange for a substantial quid.
— Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
In his classic self-help book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill (disciple of Andrew Carnegie) calls quid pro quo “a universal law of the marketplace, which Nature Herself will reckon if it is bent/broken long enough!”
Quid pro quo may sometimes be used to define a misunderstanding or blunder made by the substituting of one thing for another, particularly in the context of the transcribing of a text. In this alternate context, the phrase qui pro quo is more faithful to the original Latin meaning (see below). In proofreading, an error made by the proofer to indicate to use the original is usually marked with the Latin word stet (“let it stand”), not with “QPQ”.
In the Romance languages, such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and French, the phrase quid pro quo is used with the original Latin meaning, referring to a misunderstanding or a mistake (“to take one thing for another”). In those languages, the Latin phrase corresponding to the English usage of quid pro quo is do ut des (“I give so that you will give”).