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a Roland for an Oliver




From the stories of Roland and Oliver, legendary knights of equal might.


a Roland for an Oliver (plural Rolands for Olivers)

  1. (idiomatic) Equal measure; measure for measure; adequate response.
    • 1825, William Hazlitt, The Spirit of the Age, Mr. Malthus
      Mr. Godwin has lately attempted an answer to the Essay (thus giving Mr. Malthus a Roland for his Oliver) but we think he has judged ill in endeavouring to invalidate the principle, instead of confining himself to point out the misapplication of it.
    • 1881, Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque
      It is held to be a good taunt, and somehow or other to clinch the question logically, when an old gentleman waggles his head and says: "Ah, so I thought when I was your age." It is not thought an answer at all, if the young man retorts: "My venerable sir, so I shall most probably think when I am yours." And yet the one is as good as the other: pass for pass, tit for tat, a Roland for an Oliver.
    • 1919, W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, chapter 40
      I had to bite my lip to prevent myself from laughing. What he said had a hateful truth in it, and another defect of my character is that I enjoy the company of those, however depraved, who can give me a Roland for my Oliver.