\ ˈgilt How to pronounce guilt (audio) \

Definition of guilt

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the fact of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty A jury will determine the defendant's guilt or innocence. broadly : guilty conduct
2a : the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously His guilt was written in his face.
b : feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy : self-reproach
3 : a feeling of deserving blame for offenses Wracked by guilt, he confessed his affairs.


guilted; guilting; guilts

Definition of guilt (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to cause (someone) to feel guilty Don't listen to Mommy. She's trying to guilt you.— Gary Shteyngart : to persuade (someone) to do something by causing feelings of guilt guilting her to eat her own green beans because "there are starving children in Africa."— Katie Boerema often followed by intoA far stronger compulsion is created when people think they're being watched, as a mildly impressive 86 percent of people were guilted into washing their hands in one study.— Steve Lipsher

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Examples of guilt in a Sentence

Noun The jury determines the defendant's guilt or innocence. His guilt in the matter was indisputable. It was clear that the guilt lay with him. a strong sense of guilt She feels guilt over something that happened before she was born! our secret guilts and insecurities
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun My feelings of shock ebbed, exposing a reef of guilt. Roman Dial, Outside Online, "My Son Went on a Solo Hike and Never Came Home," 10 Feb. 2020 The lack of permission, the loss of power, the guilt that’s lingered ever since. Ashley Lee, Houston Chronicle, "How Alanis Morissette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ has Broadway talking about sexual assault," 3 Feb. 2020 Feinauer had entered an Alford plea, which is not an admission of guilt, but is an admission that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict on the charges. Chris Mayhew,, "NKY reckless homicide trial: Alcohol use admitted, but this is no DUI case," 24 Jan. 2020 But another part was the great escape from American history and its burdens of guilt. Fintan O’toole, The New York Review of Books, "The Designated Mourner," 7 Jan. 2020 Who doesn’t bear the guilt Mr. Benioff appears to suffer for having built a successful business. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "The Unusualness of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella," 25 Nov. 2019 The final witness in the guilt or innocence phase of Ronald Lee Haskell’s capital murder trial testified Tuesday. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Testimony ends in trial of man accused of killing 6 in Texas," 24 Sep. 2019 The guilt in the wake of the Decision led to a correction through the rest of the decade. Andrew Sharp,, "The Biggest NBA Stories of the Decade," 19 Sep. 2019 Those attorneys have raised repeated misconduct allegations against the government — which a judge has since rejected — and prosecutors have responded by calling into question whether Flynn truly accepts guilt. Eric Tucker, Anchorage Daily News, "Ex-Trump aide Michael Flynn seeks to withdraw guilty plea," 15 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'guilt.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of guilt


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1971, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for guilt


Middle English, delinquency, guilt, from Old English gylt delinquency

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Time Traveler for guilt

Time Traveler

The first known use of guilt was before the 12th century

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Statistics for guilt

Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Guilt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for guilt


How to pronounce guilt (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of guilt

: responsibility for a crime or for doing something bad or wrong
: a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong


\ ˈgilt How to pronounce guilt (audio) \

Kids Definition of guilt

1 : responsibility for having done something wrong and especially something against the law He admitted his guilt.
2 : a feeling of shame or regret as a result of bad conduct

Other Words from guilt

guiltless \ -​ləs \ adjective


\ ˈgilt How to pronounce guilt (audio) \

Medical Definition of guilt

: feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy : morbid self-reproach often manifest in marked preoccupation with the moral correctness of one's behavior aggressive responses originating in inner guilt and uncertainty

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Legal Definition of guilt

: the fact of having committed an offense especially against the law not enough evidence to establish guilt — compare innocence

History and Etymology for guilt

Old English gylt delinquency

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More from Merriam-Webster on guilt

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for guilt

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with guilt

Spanish Central: Translation of guilt

Nglish: Translation of guilt for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of guilt for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about guilt

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