quid pro quo

\ˌkwid-ˌprō-ˈkwō \

Definition of quid pro quo 

: something given or received for something else also : a deal arranging a quid pro quo

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Quid Pro Quo and the Apothecary

In the early 16th century, a quid pro quo was something obtained from an apothecary. That's because when quid pro quo (New Latin for "something for something") was first used in English, it referred to the process of substituting one medicine for another—whether intentionally (and sometimes fraudulently) or accidentally. The meaning of the phrase was quickly extended, however, and within several decades it was being used for more general equivalent exchanges. These days, it often occurs in legal contexts.

Examples of quid pro quo in a Sentence

in politics nobody does something for nothing: there's always a quid pro quo involved

Recent Examples on the Web

Most Nicaraguans appeared content or resigned to the quid pro quo—until now. Juan Montes, WSJ, "Nicaragua’s Political Crisis Descends Into ‘Dark Days’," 6 June 2018 Dealmaking, contracts and quid pro quo mostly operate in unhappy marriages. John Gottman, Anchorage Daily News, "Five myths about marriage," 16 June 2018 In addition to discrediting Mr. Howe, defense lawyers also said there was no evidence of quid pro quo between Mr. Percoco and the other defendants. Vivian Wang, New York Times, "Percoco Was Cuomo’s Foot Soldier, Not His Right Hand, Lawyer Says," 28 Feb. 2018 In his closing argument, Scuderi told the jurors that the central weakness of the prosecution’s case was the absence of evidence of an explicit quid pro quo in which Green agreed to sell his office. Craig R. Mccoy, Philly.com, "Former Philly Sheriff John Green beats every charge in federal bribery-conspiracy trial," 3 Apr. 2018 Mr Trump explained the quid pro quo at the heart of the show. The Economist, "Donald Trump insists on trade reciprocity. But what kind?," 12 July 2018 The incident prompted an internal affairs investigation into whether there was any quid pro quo and the troopers were cleared, the source said. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Records: State Police captain's friendship with towing boss under investigation," 19 June 2018 What had been dubbed a denuclearization summit was actually light on the specifics, beyond its quid pro quo joint statement twinning North Korea’s commitment to denuclearize with US security commitments for Kim. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, "Despite murky details, summit sends NK clear message: Welcome to the club," 12 June 2018 Beijing has also offered to remove tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. farm products as part of the negotiations, although one person said the White House didn’t offer any quid pro quo. Bob Davis, WSJ, "U.S., China Agree on Outline to Settle ZTE Controversy," 22 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'quid pro quo.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of quid pro quo

1582, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for quid pro quo

New Latin, something for something

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Statistics for quid pro quo

Last Updated

5 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for quid pro quo

The first known use of quid pro quo was in 1582

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More Definitions for quid pro quo

quid pro quo


Financial Definition of quid pro quo

What It Is

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that literally means "something for something." The phrase usually indicates an exchange of goods or services of roughly equivalent value.

How It Works

From a legal perspective, quid pro quo indicates that a good or service has been traded for something of equal value. In particular, quid pro quo is used explicitly to indicate that there has been "consideration" in a contract, meaning that there are goods or services being delivered and that acceptable payment is made for these goods or services. Without consideration, or quid pro quo, for example, a contract may be determined to be nonbinding and invalid.

In the political world, for example, quid pro quo sometimes refers to giving support, financial or otherwise, to a political candidate in exchange for the expectation of direct support for an activity of the political benefactor. Quid pro quo may appear as bribery in these cases and such support must always be tested for conflicts of interest.

Why It Matters

Quid pro quo is one of the most common Latin legal terms used. In any transaction, legal, political or otherwise, it is helpful to know the quid pro quo, that is, the balance of the value of the service or good and the financial compensation being offered.

Source: Investing Answers

quid pro quo


English Language Learners Definition of quid pro quo

: something that is given to you or done for you in return for something you have given to or done for someone else

quid pro quo

\ˌkwid-ˌprō-ˈkwō \

Legal Definition of quid pro quo 

: something (as consideration) given or received for something else

History and Etymology for quid pro quo

New Latin, something for something

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Comments on quid pro quo

What made you want to look up quid pro quo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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