guilt

noun
\ 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.

guilt

verb
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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Later in the film, Francis-Denny says her grandfather’s guilt over what happened with Boat Harbour was inherited by the rest of his family. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "Watch the First Clip From Ellen Page and Ian Daniel's New Documentary About Environmental Racism," 6 Sep. 2019 Alba is about a family, on an expedition to scatter the ashes of an archaeologist, who battle survivor guilt and sibling rivalries. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, "Toronto: Sally Potter Prepping Brexit-Inspired Comedy 'Alba'," 6 Sep. 2019 In a time that is so sacred and fleeting, a woman’s trauma can become amplified by feelings of guilt surrounding her grief. Nikki Kolb, Glamour, "A Traumatic Birth Forever Changed My First Moments of Motherhood," 4 Sep. 2019 The person trying to eat healthier either gets too pushy or even (sometimes inadvertently) starts guilt-tripping their partner into eating differently, sometimes not even noticing the challenges their partner is dealing with. SELF, "You Want to Eat Healthier. Your Partner Does Not. Here's How to Handle That," 3 Sep. 2019 Sacrifice is nothing new, and guilt has mediated family relations for eons. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "Student Debt Is Transforming the American Family," 2 Sep. 2019 Both feel crushing guilt for leaving their mother in China, even as their cousin contemplates rebooting this generational cycle of estrangement all over again by sending her own son abroad. Zoë Hu, The New Republic, "Crazy Sad Asians," 27 Aug. 2019 Others who are unable to maintain the restrictions, and thus fall off the wagon, often experience extreme guilt and even depression. Cynthia Sass, Mph, Health.com, "The Zero Carb Diet May Be a Simple Way to Lose Weight—But Is It Safe?," 8 July 2019 And knowing many others waiting for an organ won’t be so lucky can lead to conflicting feelings of guilt and gratitude. Aneri Pattani, https://www.inquirer.com, "Organ transplant recipients balance guilt and gratitude: 'These were supposed to be her breaths’," 5 June 2019

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

Noun

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

Verb

1971, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for guilt

Noun

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

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Statistics for guilt

Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for guilt

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

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More Definitions for guilt

guilt

noun

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

guilt

noun
\ 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

guilt

noun
\ 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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guilt

noun

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with guilt

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for guilt

Spanish Central: Translation of guilt

Nglish: Translation of guilt for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of guilt for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about guilt

Comments on guilt

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