\ 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 into A 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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Are carbon offsets just a way to relieve guilt and greenwash airline travel? Mark Ellwood, Robb Report, 21 May 2022 The lazy day watching Netflix, the guilt-laden Uber Eats order, even the bold Instagram message, have all emerged around a generation spending more time by itself than any before. Kara Devlin, Longreads, 20 May 2022 In an industry that tends to assume guilt over innocence, the brand’s smart use of AI/data analytics is not only an efficient means of handling claims. Andrew Dunbar, Forbes, 19 May 2022 Some followers of the case, including descendants of Phagan, continue to believe in Frank’s guilt. Andrew Lapin, Sun Sentinel, 18 May 2022 Instead, the decision stems from guilt concerning her past infidelities, as well as her confidence that Nick will return to her. Gabrielle Smith, Glamour, 16 May 2022 Others need a psychiatrist: guilt complex, suicide attempt. Maxim Osipov, The Atlantic, 16 May 2022 Jane Varghese Williams, 27, has felt guilt over not breastfeeding her son, who has a feeding disability, since he was born last November. New York Times, 16 May 2022 The guilt trip that ensues challenges Ben’s self-image and threatens to destroy his relationship and aspirations of fatherhood. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 13 May 2022 See More

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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Learn More About guilt

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

25 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Guilt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for guilt


\ 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



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

More from Merriam-Webster on guilt

Nglish: Translation of guilt for Spanish Speakers

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


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