hold a grudge

see bear a grudge.



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


What does hold a grudge mean?

To hold 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 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 hold a grudge and others that mean the same thing, including nurse a grudge, bear a grudge, and harbor a grudge. 

Grudges are usually directed toward people, but a person can hold 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 holds a grudge against that pizzeria for getting his order wrong that one time. 

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

Where does hold a grudge come from?

The phrase hold a grudge has been used since at least the early 1900s. 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 holds a grudge, it’s often due to treatment or an action that’s considered unforgivable by the person holding the grudge. Usually this involves a personal slight (or perceived personal slight), but a person can hold 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 holding a grudge can be thought of as forgiving and forgetting (or letting it go).

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for hold a grudge?

What are some words that share a root or word element with hold a grudge

What are some words that often get used in discussing hold a grudge?

How is hold a grudge used in real life?

People are known to hold a grudge for all kinds of reasons.


Try using hold a grudge!

Is hold a grudge used correctly in the following sentence?

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