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bear a grudge

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Idioms and Phrases

Also, have or hold a grudge . Maintain resentment or anger against someone for a past offense. For example, They held up my claim for months, but I won't bear a grudge against them , or His grandfather was always one to hold a grudge . [c. 1600]


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What does bear a grudge mean?

To bear a grudge is to have and maintain a feeling of anger, bitterness, or resentment toward someone for something they did, especially a wrong that you think they committed against you.

The word bear means to carry, especially to carry something that is a burden.

The word grudge is typically used to refer to such a feeling when it has been held for a long period of time—often longer than is considered normal.

For that reason, grudge is often used in phrases like bear a grudge and others that mean the same thing, including hold a grudge (which is much more common), nurse a grudge, and harbor a grudge. 

Grudges are usually directed toward people, but a person can bear a grudge against a group or an entity like a company or organization. The word grudge is often followed by the word against and whom or what the grudge is directed toward, as in Your father still bears a grudge against that pizzeria for getting his order wrong that one time. 

Example: She has borne a grudge against me ever since I beat her in the spelling bee in fifth grade.

Where does bear a grudge come from?

The phrase bear a grudge has been used since the 1600s. The first records of the word grudge come from the 1400s. It comes from the Old French grouchier, which means “to grumble” and is also the basis of the word grouch. Grudge is probably related to the Middle High German word grogezen, meaning “to complain, cry out.”

When a person bears a grudge, it’s often due to treatment or an action that’s considered unforgivable by the person bearing the grudge. Usually this involves a personal slight (or perceived personal slight), but a person can bear a grudge against someone they don’t even know. A lot of grudges are held for petty reasons, including things that the supposed wrongdoer doesn’t even know that they did. The opposite of bearing a grudge can be thought of as forgiving and forgetting (or letting it go).

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How is bear a grudge used in real life?

People are known to bear a grudge for all kinds of reasons. The phrase hold a grudge is much more commonly used.


Try using bear a grudge!

Is bear a grudge used correctly in the following sentence?

Do you really still bear a grudge against me for eating your doughnut seven years ago?

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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