In Faulkner's The sound and the fury two sentences arrive close to one another which have made me wonder about the usage of grudge and begrudge.

I know you grudge what I give him.

And shortly thereafter,

I know you begrudge him.

Now I wonder if the subtle difference of a person or action implies the need for different words.

In essence, I am wondering about the correct usage of these two words in comparison with one another.

  • I'm bad at tagging, feel free to improve my tags.
    – BBischof
    May 24, 2011 at 16:31
  • Just trying something on for size! meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/1207/… May 24, 2011 at 21:34
  • @FumbleFingers I prefer and... I don't really understand the desire to edit this. Based on the meta question it doesn't seem like the community formed a consensus that these changes should be made. :/
    – BBischof
    May 24, 2011 at 21:49
  • reverted. didn't mean to be rude. May 24, 2011 at 22:02
  • @FumbleFingers No problem at all.
    – BBischof
    May 24, 2011 at 22:26

2 Answers 2


For begrudge there are two meanings:

The first one says it's a trivalent verb. The valency in Linguistics indicates how many arguments can be controlled by a given verb.

  1. For this first meaning, this verb, in order to work properly needs 3 things: Subject, Direct Object, Indirect Object:
    Envy (someone) the possession or enjoyment of (something):
    Example: she(S) begrudged Martin(D.O.) his affluence(I.O).

  2. For the second meaning, it's a transitive verb (Transitive verbs are usually divalent, i.e. two arguments, Subject and Direct Object):
    Give reluctantly or resentfully: nobody begrudges a single penny spent on health.

For grudge I found two meanings as well:

  1. Be resentfully unwilling to give, grant, or allow (something): he grudged the work and time that the meeting involved.

  2. Here it's trivalent again:
    Feel resentful that (someone) has achieved (something): I don't grudge him his moment of triumph.

Examples and definitions are taken from the NOAD.


Grudge (verb) seems to have one meaning, which is focused on giving or conceding:

to be unwilling to give or admit : give or allow reluctantly or resentfully

While begrudge has two:

  1. to give or concede reluctantly or with displeasure
  2. to look upon with disapproval

The first meaning is similar to the verb grudge while the second, which is the meaning used in your quote for begrudge, is not shared.

Therefore, while either could have been used in the first sentence:

I know you [grudge|begrudge] what I give him.

Only begrudge fits in the second sentence (to apply disapproval generally).

  • I did not recognise the second meaning, and the OED lists it as "obs(olete) rare", and gives one example from 1690. I would read Faulkner's use as a rather questionable elliptical form, with an implied object.
    – Colin Fine
    May 24, 2011 at 16:53

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