Consider: A boyfriend cheated on her girlfriend, so she broke up with him. She didn't make a big stink about it, but when she dwells on it, she feels so upset and angry she cannot help saying to herself:

"I hope somebody will betray him someday."

She does not say these bad wishes to his face, but expresses her anger verbally in her own mind.

Is there a verb which can be used for what she is doing in this situation?

I thought to cuss out, curse out or to swear at, but I think these phrases would imply she says foul words to his face.

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    It sounds to me like you "stew", since you don't seem to be doing anything else.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 20:42
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    It's not clear to me whether you mean bearing a silent grudge (saying nothing bad to anyone about the person you're resentful towards), or badmouthing someone behind their back (telling everyone except the object of your vitriol, normally because you're embarrassed or afraid). Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 20:43
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    @FumbleFingers consider talking to myself or to a few close friends..but not bad words or lie, just saying some bad wishes :)
    – Mrt
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 20:54
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    Backbiting - malicious talk about someone who is not present Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 21:09
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    @Murat: By "curse", do you mean cause/hope for bad things to happen to someone, or are you simply venting a general sense of annoyance/grievance? Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 22:15

5 Answers 5


Curse implies speaking evil in both ways mentioned in the question and comments and can be limited to an internal tirade:


1.0 A solemn utterance intended to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on


1.0 [WITH OBJECT] Invoke or use a curse against:

2.0 [NO OBJECT] Utter offensive words in anger or annoyance:

If she curses him, rather than cursing at him, she diminishes the idea of throwing foul language at him.

She cursed him in hopes that someone would betray him someday.




Speak about (someone) in a spitefully critical manner:

Emphasis mine.

She maligned him in her heart and mind!

If you intend to wish some actual disaster by your curses you might use the word:



  1. To bring or wish bad luck to:

She hexed him with evil thoughts.



  • 3
    Hex goes a step too far, I think—it implies very strongly that you're a gypsy/witch who's putting an actual magical curse on the other person. Malign and curse are good, though of course they don't represent the aspect of ‘biting back’ at someone who hurt you specifically. Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 10:43
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    Hex seems at the very edge of the semantic field to me to me too. I was surprised to find that definition. I have found that sometimes words on the edge connect with something in the mind of the poster.
    – ScotM
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 18:54

You can hope they get their comeuppance, sometimes spelled come-uppance. It may not entirely provide what you need because there is no inference contained in the word itself that it is an unspoken hope of he/she who seeks vengeance.

It means getting what they deserve. It was coined in the mid-19th century. I believe it may have been used by Dickens, but no reference of his is quoted in the OED entry, which I reproduce below in its entirety.

orig. English and U.S. dial., now gen. in the U.S., less common elsewhere. Thesaurus » Categories »

Enough to serve one (by way of retaliation or check); one's deserts.

1859 Harper's Mag. Jan. 277/1 Dennis once got his ‘come-up-ance’.

1880 M. A. Courtney Gloss. Words W. Cornwall in Gloss. Cornwall 14/1 Come-upping, a flogging. ‘I'll gi' 'ee a sound come-upping.’

1884 W. D. Howells Rise Silas Lapham viii. 366 Rogers is a rascal... But I guess he'll find he's got his come-uppance.

1897 E. Higginson Tales Puget Sound 155, I can give him his come-up-'ans if he goes to foolin' around.

1897 W. D. Howells Landlord Lion's Head xxi. 153 Well, I did get my come-uppings that time.

1923 ‘B. M. Bower’ Parowan Bonanza vi. 70 ‘An' that's where he got 'is come-uppance,’ he gloated.

1943 D. W. Brogan Eng. People i. 21 The roles of teacher and taught were suddenly reversed, to the delight of a world that saw the English at last get their come-uppance.

1957 G. B. Stern Seventy Times Seven 15 She's bound to get her come-uppance one day.

1959 Cambr. Rev. 2 May 461/2 When they actually appoint [at Cambridge] a sociologist they will get their comeuppance.

1963 Ann. Reg. 1962 40 Fleet Street, accustomed to pour scorn on the inefficiencies of other industries, had its ‘comeuppance’ with the report of the Shawcross Commission.


One oft-used phrase is wish ill upon: the girl is wishing ill upon her ex-boyfriend. You often hear this phrase used in conjunction with people who are caught up in heat-of-the-moment anger.

You can find the phrase in books:

Almost always, those who hate wish ill upon the person at whom they are angry.
(Source: Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way, by Gary D Chapman, 2008.)

I found this tongue-in-cheek tweet as another example:

There are days when I wish ill upon the person who invented “Reply All.” Today might be one of them.

And one blogger wrote:

We all have the impulse to wish ill upon our neighbors as a way of making us feel better about ourselves. It is destructive, but difficult to overcome.

Those usages seem to align pretty closely with what you are asking for.


You can hope they get what's coming to them to mean you hope they get what you feel they deserve, as in "I hope she gets what's coming to her."


gossip probably applies, as well. It's pretty much the same thing, whatever you say behind someone's back usually spreads like wildfire anyway.

  • @Murat hoping, wishing, praying, stewing, thinking bad thoughts, ... worrying, fretting, festering... what ever you do within yourself.
    – SrJoven
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 21:10

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