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What is a "Grudge"?

Updated on October 26, 2012

We often hear the term "holding a grudge". What is a "grudge", what does it look like, and how does one "hold it"?

"Grudge" is an actual word and it's dictionary meaning is:

a feeling of resentment or ill will over some grievance, or to harbor resentment.

To "hold or carry a grudge" would then mean : holding onto or carrying around a feeling of resentment over some grievance.

In other words, an un-forgiving attitude leading to bitterness. This seems to be a very unfortunate and burdensome way to live.

The word itself even has a negative sound to it. Say it out loud and you will hear "Grrrrr...udge" To me that sounds like the beginning of a growl, "grrrr" and the ending "udge" reminds me of something heavy that won't budge. So this word's meaning and sound are both negative, and it is not really a word that we should want in our vocabulary.

I am quite familiar with the word "grudge" because my family used it quite often while I was growing up. I grew up in a very negative family, where someone was always angry at someone else and so it seemed "grudges" were quite often carried around by my family members. I remember my mom saying " Now... we shouldn't hold a grudge", " He always holds a grudges" or "She's been carrying a grudge for years." My aunt always had a grudge against someone or knew somebody that did.

So, while I was quite familiar with the word, I was not too sure of it's explanation and I really never gave it much thought until today when I heard it used again and decided to examine the word and it's meaning.

A 'grudge" is not an actual physical thing that can be picked up, carried or visibly seen. It is something that is "carried" internally, however, it is real, it is quite heavy, and the effects of carrying it internally can be seen outwardly in our actions toward others and ourselves. It can cause great harm to us and others physically and mentally, and though it is not tangible, it can grow and become bigger and in time it could completely take over our lives.

Our physical bodies reflect a positive or negative thought life, and the grudge, being a negative attitude, will reveal itself in our speech and actions. We will become negative, bitter, un-happy people, our faces will show it, and our bodies will suffer from it.

In doing some further study, I saw that the word grudge is found quite often in the scriptures and we are warned against grudging. (Leviticus 19:18, James 5:9, 1 Peter 4:9) The scriptures refer instead to loving your neighbor as yourself and forgiving others as you have been forgiven by God so as to prevent any bitterness from growing. ( Galatians 5:14, Matthew 6:12, Ephesians 4:31, Hebrews 12:15 )

What we are to do then is be patient with one another and forgiving. When someone hurts us we are not to " hold a grudge" but we are to forgive them and drop the offense. Even if they do not pick it up and acknowledge that they put it on us, we will still be set free because we have let it go, and letting it go, means never going back and picking it up again. We are to walk away from it, leaving it behind and never looking back at it. If we can do that, then we can go forward and not be held back by holding a grudge which will get heavier over time.

When something is done to us that we feel was unjust, we are not to "carry around a grudge" but we are to let it go and so release the burden of it all. It may not be easy, it may take some time, but we need to make an effort to reconciliation. As long as we hold onto that feeling of resentment we will live the offense over and over every day and we will become bitter and un-happy.

Forgiving someone is not condoning what they did to us, but it is the first step in setting us free from the burden of carrying around the offense. Forgiveness will release healing into our lives and keep bitterness from growing.

I never saw the movie, but I am told there was one made called " The Grudge" and that it was a very ugly, horrific image, not something people wanted to be around. Although, it was just a fictitious, horror movie, it sounds like it could very well portray what an actual grudge would look like in reality. Bitterness, resentment and un-forgiveness can build up to be very ugly things in our lives and will cause a negative effect on all our relationships as they are not pretty and not things people enjoy being around.

So, in thinking upon all of this, it just might be a good time to take a good look at ourselves and see if we are harboring any resentments.

If we are, we should resolve to let them go. We should take those grudges right now and get rid of them. Then, make it a point to say " I will not hold a grudge !" and attempt to stick to that in the future.

God can give us the strength to do it and He is very willing to help us if we will come to Him and just ask. ( Isaiah 40:29, Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:13, Matthew 11: 28-30 )

We will truly be happier for having made that choice, physically and mentally. For, if we choose to carry forgiveness in our hearts, there will be no room for any grudges to burden us down, and we will be able to walk in freedom to live joyful, pleasant lives.

I would appreciate your feedback on this article. Did it help you in some way, do you have questions on it, would you like to discuss it further?

Post a Comment or Email me and let me know what you think.

( Links are posted below for all scripture references---just click to read each verse. )

© 2007


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    • profile image

      cailyn 3 years ago

      I like your awnser

    • profile image

      this helped me emensly. Even now I dare not speak the offense thst becsme a Grudge of the grandest sort. but, this rvening I am free. You see I daw tjr offending petson thud evening and did not speak  3 years ago

      (Think about it ) online I found freedom. Throug your article. I started to laugh. I mean hysterical laughing because indeed a grudge is what I and I had one against myself as well . I'm laughing now at the whole revelation . And oh am I free.Thank you.

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 4 years ago from Oregon, USA

      You are welcome Angel85.

      I am glad you were helped by this article. God's blessings to you daily as you deal with what He has revealed and brought to your heart to heal.

    • profile image

      Angel85 4 years ago

      I needed to hear your wisdom on this subject to validate what I have always felt in my heart. I have witnessed what holding grudges can do to an individual and unfortunately sometimes the individual has a hard time admitting this problem because this is a matter of the heart. Because this is an internal issue it damages the most vital part of an individual and by the time it begins to manifest itself outwardly its quite ugly. God bless you for your divine wisdom this is indeed a very tough subject to tackle.

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 4 years ago from Oregon, USA

      You are welcome Shea. I am so glad this helped you to find freedom to let go and move on. Once you do, then the healing can begin. God's blessings to you daily.

    • profile image

      shea 4 years ago

      This...too deep i am actually guilty...neva mind the other parties where rong but i have carried the hurt of what they did around with me for a long time........and its so bad..n hard espevialy if the hurt is church related...and rejection for not being a certain way...i hve been very worried bcz i thot i hve to keep being in the situation....or desling with the same pple .....until i read what u said about its ur choice to stay or go....u hve realy freed a way bcz i thot it meant u have to stay in tht toxic dangerous situation

      And keep getting hurt....i dontthnk the place that i got hurt in will change... I geuss God can do anything.... But my job is not to choose to carry that bitter hurt twisted heavy thing anymore

      So i choose to put it down in the trash and move on. May God Himself bless u cover u with His love...thanku for writing this.

    • profile image

      Kimberly W. 4 years ago

      I thank you for being obedient to God in writing this so needed word for me. I was offended by one of my seven sisters earlier this week about a conversation that I honestly didn't have with another party. Because I know that the Christ living thing to do is to forgive, I forgave; however, I was still holding a grudge with her which as you stated is very noticeable. I needed to know the definition of grudge and reading this passage has offered me true light.

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 5 years ago from Oregon, USA

      So glad this article was a blessing to you Glen. Thank you for letting me know.

    • profile image

      Baya K.D. 5 years ago

      Excellent article!

    • profile image

      Glen A 5 years ago

      I, too, was amazed when I saw that it was written years ago ... but we know that there is nothing new under the sun. We are still fighting a cursed, fallen, full of self-love world. This is exactly why I pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I can't wait to come under the full presence of the Lord and be in a blessed, renewed, full of love world.

      I have said I forgive, but keep thinking about .... subconsciously. I hate how it takes over and sometimes I don't even realize I have been thinking about it. And many times it is in a form of a conversation! How irritating! I realize, now, that I have decided to forgive, I hadn't decided to let go of the grudge. I enjoyed your article very much! It spoke volumes to me and opened my heart to a place that is holding grudges. Thank you for your wisdom and knowledge .. lead by God. I hope & pray there will be more articles attached to the daily devotions. Thanks, again!

    • profile image

      Mike Zuri 5 years ago

      Beautiful and True..........

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 5 years ago from Oregon, USA

      You are welcome Fred, Lewis and Faye. I am so glad this article was a blessing to you. Thank you for letting me know.

    • profile image

      Praise God! 5 years ago

      I pray that you will continue to allow the Lord to use you in delivering a Word of Encouragement to masses of people! I was truly blessed by this information provided; as I am sure many others are too, but choose not to because I started not to post a comment. So, Many Thanks!!

      Faye 9-30-12

    • profile image

      Lewis Hamilton 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this! You are right! It goes right along with my article and the Jim Ryun story!

    • profile image

      Fred McCray 5 years ago

      Thanks. I was blessed by the comments you made.

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 5 years ago from Oregon, USA

      Danny, God bless you as you move forward to the new life God is leading you to. We are never too old to learn or change. I am so glad that you are learning of God's love and forgiveness, and that you found this article helpful.

    • profile image

      Danny 5 years ago

      Funny, this article was written several years ago and still seems to be helping people. Bless you for tackling this subject. I have been a grudge holder since I was a little boy (I am now 61). My second wife recently left me do to my negativity and I am just learning about God's love and forgiveness for us all, no matter what we have done. Holding a grudge has been something I have been very good at doing throughout my life and I am now challenged with changing this behavior, Your words and scripture references will help.

    • insurancesniper profile image

      insurancesniper 6 years ago

      This acticle has helped massively. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Pedro 6 years ago

      Thank you very, very much for being a divine instrument in explaining such important matter.

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 6 years ago from Oregon, USA

      So glad that this came up in the Google search and that it helped you. Thank you for letting me know. And blessings to you daily as you recover and heal.

    • profile image

      Cathy51557 6 years ago

      This has helped me understand my feelings so much. As part of my recovery I am trying to understand my feelings and bring them out into the light instead of stuffing them down inside me and "harboring ill feelings" I've learned it's not wrong to have ill feelings but to keep them in the dark within us only keeps us stuck. I googled "what does it mean to harbor bad will" and this came up. It has helped me to see and understand what I am feeling and I will be better able to pray specifically for God to heal me and take away these feelings, these resentments, these grudges. Thank you very much

    • profile image

      Mayank_Singh_Chouhan 6 years ago

      Hey It Was Vryy Vrryy True And Vryy Help Full...

      I Was Too Hold A GRUDGE Inside Me And I Hope From Today The Vry Vry Moment Ill Distroy It... :)

      And For Sure God Will Help Me For Tht..

      Thnku Soo Vry Much Yaar..

      GodBless Us...

      Stay_Safe nd.,

      Stay_Blessd *

    • profile image

      quel 6 years ago

      does people who didn't acknowledge their fault or dont even sincere of saying sorry deserves forgiveness?

    • profile image

      Unbeliever 6 years ago

      Most of my family was christian that I grew up with. It seems they are the ones in my life who hold grudges. They preach forgiveness but certainly do not practice it. Hypocracy is not pretty.

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 6 years ago from Oregon, USA

      The difference is forgiveness. As I said in the article: "Forgiving someone is not condoning what they did to us, but it is the first step in setting us free from the burden of carrying around the offense. Forgiveness will release healing into our lives and keep bitterness from growing." We can choose to truly forgive them from our heart, which often times takes God's help, and then we may choose to move on. Once we truly forgive, we will release the offense and be set free. Perhaps we will choose to stay or go, but whatever the choice, we will do so without holding onto a grudge.

    • profile image

      LISSA LION 6 years ago


    • profile image

      aryhm 6 years ago

      thank you for this article.. it helps a lot...

    • profile image

      me 6 years ago

      I have a friend that I have forgiven for a wrong, I need to know if I still have to be friends with them?

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 6 years ago from Oregon, USA

      Unfortunately that is what sometimes happens when we don't love ourselves. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      Atheist 6 years ago

      "Loving your neighbor as yourself", what happens if you don't love yourself? You can hate on everyone else lol?

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 6 years ago from Oregon, USA

      So glad to hear the article was helpful for you for your ministry lesson. Thanks for letting me know. Blessings to you Kelita

    • profile image

      Kelita 6 years ago

      Thanks for this article. I'm also preparing a youth Ministry lesson on Grudge & your article is very helpful.

    • profile image

      Anj 6 years ago

      It's very well said & extremely true!!!! We should not hold grudges to anyone even if we think what they did to us is unbearable. We have to extend our patience for the happiness of everyone.

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 6 years ago from Oregon, USA

      I will pray for you Joanne.

    • profile image

      joanne 6 years ago

      Just what I needed. Still struggling with a hurt that happened to me a few years back. Grudges make you miserable & hard to live with. Please pray for me.

    • profile image

      Omo 6 years ago

      Thank you for write-up,its indeed expository and enlightening.Thanks for being a blessing.GOD bless you!

    • profile image

      Bonnie 6 years ago

      Praise God for this powerful word so many people holds onto grudges which doesn't profit anything.Forgiveness is the key and so many are not willing to forgive.And that is so sad.You will live a lonely life if you carry around an ill feeling toward some one.I'm truly graceful for you inspiring me to do what is right.Thanks

    • profile image

      sonto 6 years ago

      thank you now i can make truce with my bestfriend because when i told her things i dont like she oftens bring the the term Grudge, you holding grudges,now i can make her read these.

    • profile image

      danny 6 years ago

      what a deep understanding you're so good a magnificient explanation. thank you so much

    • profile image

      tinu 6 years ago

      nice write up,my friend actualy used the word grudge for me n tryin 2 find out d meaning

    • profile image

      April 6 years ago

      my husband has be holding on to his anger towards me , a grudge for quite a while.After the argument we got into I went right to him and ask for his for giveness weeks ago..I did not want to be at odds with him.I have a lot of sadness in my life right now and could not stand the idea that him and I would not be getting along.He did not care then and his anger and unforgiveness seem to me like it has gotten worst.I am sad and have no idea why he won't forgive mw ? It was a just a verbal disagreement ?

    • profile image

      Vicky 6 years ago

      Your article was very helpful! I personally struggle with holding grudges. I see that letting go of grudges sometimes takes time. Even more, you are perpetually letting go because you have to renew your mind daily. The scriptures you stated are very empowering. I'll make them my prayer until I see deliverance.

      Be blessed!


    • profile image

      sally 6 years ago

      thanks for taking the time to write teacher told me this today and i didn't know what he meant and i was just staring at home like a confused person, but now i know what he meant!


    • profile image

      Kitione 7 years ago

      Thank u very much for the has helped me quite a lot in finishing my tutorial activity in P.P.D

    • profile image

      bisola  7 years ago

      Well well,I used to claim I had forgiven past offenses but now I know better may God help me I know God feels so bad with grudges that it not only hinders our walk with him it will also keep us from making eternity and I sure wanna make heaven I sometimes pray that God give me a Joeseph heart ,for without holiness no man would see God.

    • profile image

      deika 7 years ago

      Simple words Great learning Thanku :)

    • profile image

      BENGAMIN 7 years ago

      THANK YOU SO SO MUCH FOR WRITING THIS.I feel so much better after all my friends talking about GRUDGE the movie I was the only one who didn't see that and I now think its better not seeing that.I learnt that no matter what they say Iwanna be a GOD`S child.THANKS SO MUCH!

    • profile image

      jun@400 7 years ago

      Im holding on a grudge right this time not until i read this article..I was somehow enlighten. Indeed, we must learn to forgive to set ourselves free. Though, it maybe the hardest thing to do but its the only way to keep us on peace...

      You are truly a blessing for us.

    • profile image

      layo 7 years ago

      really good thanks

    • profile image

      PunRun 7 years ago

      A very helpful advice for everyone: "Forgiving someone is not condoning what they did to us, but it is the first step in setting us free from the burden of carrying around the offense. Forgiveness will release healing into our lives and keep bitterness from growing."

      Thanks for the list of Bible verses that will surely help in forgiving others, in God's time.

      Thanks for visiting my hub!

    • profile image

      linda 7 years ago

      sometimes its hard to forgive that we carry or hold a grudge with in us,my husband had an affair with one of my closest friend,its been 2 years now,its hard for me to let go, my husband and a friend betrayed me,its not easy to forgive them,this is what holding me back.i will never forgive what they have done.

    • profile image

      Ray 7 years ago

      Would a feeling of hurt and mistrust toward a spouse that commited adultry be called a grudge and if so why ??

    • profile image

      Kira 7 years ago

      tnx to this.its a big help to me..coz my grudge to that person is to big..

    • profile image

      jerry 7 years ago

      I know my wife has a grudge on me for some wrong things I have done. She won't let it go. I would love to be restored with my wife I really love her I just have a bad pass I hope one day christ will enable her to forgive me. She is to the point of wanting a divorce.

    • profile image

      Lisa 7 years ago

      Very helpful! I've been holding a grudge for a few years now. It's time to let go.......... Thank you!

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      QUEEN  7 years ago


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      purita_06 7 years ago

      nice.. having grudges makes us unhealthy... so let's alway's choose to forget.. and forget.. for god so love us.. :-)

    • profile image

      Anonymous 7 years ago

      a Very good article

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      James 7 years ago

      Yes i have found this really helpful, i did not realise until recently that i have been carrying a lot of grudges they have been that deep. Yes there is no good in having grudges get rid of them before they fester. Forgive but do not forget, look at yourself to see what the lesson is, ie are you giving someone too much trust which they have not earned? have you got the full story? learn from it and move on, much much better than having a grudge.

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 7 years ago from Oregon, USA

      Amen to that Loves to Read. Thank you for visiting. God's blessings to you daily

    • Loves To Read profile image

      Loves To Read 7 years ago

      Yes we must let go of any grudge we have. It is Not always easy but when we hold on it makes us so unhappy. We must learn to forgive so that we can be forgiven and be released so as to rid ourselves of our burdens.


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      a victim 8 years ago

      Beautiful article; and I agree that grudge has become a way of life for many people and also to the fact that forgiving the grudge is different from condoling. The fact is that in real world there are so many vile and smart people; to make them understand that they are doing wrong is a challenge..

    • profile image

      Butterfly 8 years ago

      We thank God for grandchildren. The word GRUDGE is a eye opener:Thanks for the article,may God continue to use you as a vessel to enlighten our lives. "Let God be magnified"

    • profile image

      Jo 8 years ago

      Yes thanks this a very helpful article.

      God Bless


    • profile image

      still irritated 8 years ago

      Thanks for the GOdly info...It is good. I'm in a situation where I have forgiven and forgiven and forgiven certain ones within a group of people and always had hope for reconciliation between them. Finally, one day I agreed to travel with one of them. My feelings during the trip were not to be considered. Whether or not I enjoyed the trip was not important. I should be glad just to be there. I was told to not contact my family, to not talk about God and to not talk much at all. This person was constantly walking off quickly with another and I was left alone in a foreign country.. I am just so tired of these people and their ways. Yet, I have to have some contact with them for reasons I won't specify. They are selfish people beyond belief. I used to teach a couple of them to forgive!!! I have forgiven for many I just want to move, but at this point am unable to. I've prayed and talked with GOd, but feel I am to hold onto the truth about this person in particular.. we are financially connected, and I would be a fool to protect her or think she would be fair to me. SO, until that connection is dropped, what do I do? I feel I am to face the truth about her. I have lost hope in this group of people being reconciled with GOd, I guess. That is where all ability to forgive comes from? anyway...thanks

    • ronaldoh profile image

      ronaldoh 8 years ago from England

      A good write, and gets you thinking

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 8 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Grudge is a negative thing. It darkens our thinking. Thanks for enlightening us, retired06.

    • profile image

      gegz 8 years ago

      i really like this i know...ive learned a lot...thank you so much... :]]

    • retired06 profile image

      Leona J Atkinson 8 years ago from Oregon, USA

      Praise God! It is truly amazing how He works to accomplish His purposes. I thank Him that He gave me this article to write which He has used many times in people's lives.

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      Savannah 8 years ago

      I was at a bible study tonight, and we talked on a subject which God revealed that I needeed to ask for forgiveness for. That subject led to the fact that I needed to forgive a few people for things. Then I wondered, " What does God have to say about 'grudges'" This artile helped me TREMENDOUSLY! Thank you so much for this- it's exactly what I needed. God Bless!

    • profile image

      Megha Jagtap 8 years ago

      U hv done a gr8 job by giving ur time and explaining it in detail. It helped me a lot and i liked it very much. U hv explained it in very simple and easy to understand language. keep up the good work.

    • profile image

      musician 9 years ago

      very nice article..

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      Rene 9 years ago

      This has truly helped me with a vote that was made in our church. I plan to share with others. So many have grudges and just don't know it. It has become a way of life for them. Pray our church can overcome grudges...


    • profile image

      rachelmhay 9 years ago

      u're a person with a deep understanding to what u're talking to...

      i admire you for that...

    • profile image

      Leyla 10 years ago

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write about 'grudges.' I am currently planning a lesson on 'holding grudges' to teach my youth group on Sunday. This acticle has helped massively. May God bless you richly.

      Thank you


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