Ask Difference

Forgiving vs. Forgetting — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on September 27, 2023
Forgiving is absolving someone for a wrongdoing, while Forgetting is failing to remember or no longer recalling an event.
Forgiving vs. Forgetting — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Forgiving and Forgetting


Key Differences

Forgiving and Forgetting, while sometimes used together, refer to distinct mental and emotional processes. Forgiving involves a conscious decision to release feelings of resentment or anger towards someone who has done harm, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Forgetting, in contrast, pertains to the loss of memory about an event, person, or information, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.
While Forgiving is often seen as a healing and mature response to being wronged, it doesn't necessarily imply that the person has forgotten the offense. One might forgive, yet still remember the incident vividly. Conversely, Forgetting is a mental lapse or erasure, where details slip from memory. One could forget an incident without necessarily forgiving the perpetrator.
Forgiving often demands emotional strength and is sometimes a long process. It involves empathizing and potentially reconciling with the wrongdoer. Forgetting, on the other hand, doesn’t always involve emotions. It might be a result of time, distractions, or even neurological factors affecting memory retention.

Comparison Chart


Emotional and intentional.
Mental and can be unintentional.


Releasing resentment or anger.
Loss of memory.


Healing and potential reconciliation.
Absence of recall.

Time Factor

Can be immediate or take time.
Can happen suddenly or over time.

Relation to Memory

Doesn't necessarily affect memory of the event.
Directly relates to the absence or weakening of memory.

Compare with Definitions


Showing readiness to absolve a wrong.
Her Forgiving nature made her popular among her peers.


Failing to recall information.
He had a knack for Forgetting important dates.


Demonstrating leniency.
The teacher was Forgiving and gave the student another chance.


Neglecting out of carelessness.
Forgetting his keys at home became a frequent occurrence.


Relinquishing anger or resentment.
Forgiving is often more beneficial for the forgiver than the forgiven.


Losing remembrance of an event.
Forgetting her first concert was unthinkable to her.


Exhibiting compassion towards a transgressor.
Even after being betrayed, she was Forgiving and empathetic.


Ceasing to think of or consider.
He was Forgetting his worries while on vacation.


Inclined or able to forgive.


Forgetting or disremembering is the apparent loss or modification of information already encoded and stored in an individual's short or long-term memory. It is a spontaneous or gradual process in which old memories are unable to be recalled from memory storage.


Providing a margin for error or shortcomings.


To be unable to remember (something).


Inclined to forgive.
I am inclined to take a forgiving attitude, since this is his first offence.


To treat with thoughtless inattention; neglect
Forget one's family.


(computing) User-friendly, such that harmful mistakes are not easily made.


To leave behind unintentionally.


Present participle of forgive


To fail to mention.


An act of forgiveness.


To banish from one's thoughts
Forget a disgrace.


Disposed to forgive; inclined to overlook offenses; mild; merciful; compassionate; placable; as, a forgiving temper.


(Informal) To disregard on purpose. Usually used in the imperative
Oh, forget it. I refuse to go!.


Inclined or able to forgive and show mercy;
A kindly forgiving nature
A forgiving embrace to the naughty child


To cease remembering
Let's forgive and forget.


Providing absolution


To fail or neglect to become aware at the proper or specified moment
Forgot about my dental appointment.


Emotionally releasing grudges.
Forgiving past mistakes is key to moving forward.


Present participle of forget


The mental act by which something is forgotten.


Intentionally ignoring or disregarding.
She was Forgetting the past and looking to the future.

Common Curiosities

Is Forgetting always intentional?

No, Forgetting can be unintentional, often due to time or other factors affecting memory.

What does Forgiving entail?

Forgiving involves releasing feelings of resentment or anger towards a wrongdoer.

Is Forgetting the same as Forgiving?

No, Forgetting is about not recalling an event, while Forgiving is about absolving someone for a wrongdoing.

Why is Forgiving considered beneficial?

Forgiving can lead to emotional healing and reduce stress or negative feelings.

Is it healthier to forgive or forget?

Both can be healthy in different situations. Forgiving can provide emotional relief, while Forgetting can offer mental respite.

What are the benefits of Forgiving?

Forgiving can lead to inner peace, improved relationships, and reduced negative emotions.

Can Forgetting be a sign of a bigger problem?

Frequent Forgetting could indicate memory issues or conditions like Alzheimer's.

Why do people often say "Forgive and Forget"?

It emphasizes the idea of letting go of both the emotional pain and the memory of a transgression.

Can one forgive without forgetting?

Yes, it's possible to forgive someone but still remember the offense.

What causes Forgetting?

Forgetting can result from time, distractions, neurological factors, or even intentional effort.

Is Forgiving a sign of weakness?

No, Forgiving often requires strength and can be seen as a mature, empathetic response.

Does Forgetting mean you've moved on?

Not necessarily. Forgetting an event doesn't guarantee that emotional healing or forgiveness has occurred.

Is Forgetting always beneficial?

Not always. While Forgetting can bring relief, it might also mean missing out on important lessons or memories.

How can one practice Forgiving?

It can involve empathy, understanding, self-reflection, and sometimes even seeking therapy or counseling.

Can Forgetting be trained or practiced?

While intentional forgetting is challenging, techniques like distraction or focusing on other memories can sometimes help.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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