also you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours
- do someone a favour hoping that a favour will be returned
- help someone with something difficult, expecting to be helped back when needed
- I don't mind helping him out this time, he's scratched my back many times.
- I've scratched your back often, now its your turn. Do me this favour and we're even.
- I'll finish your work if you get the groceries for me - you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours.
- The corrupt official escaped punishment because he has been scratching the minister's back.
- To successfully run a big business empire, you have to scratch the government's back occasionally.
- I needed some information which he would not have given me, so I had to scratch his back to get it.
The phrase "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" originated in the English Navy during the 1600s. It refers to a punishment for indiscipline where the offender would be tied to the mast and lashed. The crew members made a deal among themselves to deliver light lashes, in effect, just scratching the offender's back. The shortened version of the phrase "scratch someone's back" was first recorded in 1704.