\ ˈgil-tē How to pronounce guilty (audio) \
guiltier; guiltiest

Definition of guilty

1 : justly chargeable with or responsible for a usually grave breach of conduct or a crime Does the defendant plead guilty or not guilty?
2 obsolete : justly liable to or deserving of a penalty
3a : suggesting or involving guilt The children exchanged guilty looks.
b : aware of or suffering from guilt guilty consciences

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Other Words from guilty

guiltily \ ˈgil-​tə-​lē How to pronounce guiltily (audio) \ adverb
guiltiness \ ˈgil-​tē-​nəs How to pronounce guiltiness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for guilty


ashamed, shamed, shamefaced


shameless, unashamed

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Choose the Right Synonym for guilty

blameworthy, blamable, guilty, culpable mean deserving reproach or punishment. blameworthy and blamable apply to any degree of reprehensibility. conduct adjudged blameworthy an accident for which no one is blamable guilty implies responsibility for or consciousness of crime, sin, or, at the least, grave error or misdoing. guilty of a breach of etiquette culpable is weaker than guilty and is likely to connote malfeasance or errors of ignorance, omission, or negligence. culpable neglect

Examples of guilty in a Sentence

Do you think he's innocent or guilty? Will the defendant plead guilty or not guilty? The children exchanged guilty looks. He was acting like someone with a guilty conscience. There's no need to feel guilty about it.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Bratcher pleaded no contest and was found guilty, but the case was reopened months later and dismissed. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Man suspected in road rage shooting of 3-year-old girl earlier charged with shooting a man in the chest and hit-and-run," 16 July 2019 The husband of a Pittsburgh official involved in a scuffle with police at a Detroit hotel was found not guilty on two misdemeanor charges. Anna Bauman, Detroit Free Press, "Jury acquits husband of Pittsburgh official charged in Detroit hotel altercation," 15 July 2019 View Sample Sign Up Now Would Bonnie be found guilty? Raisa Bruner, Time, "Do the Women of Big Little Lies Have a Case? We Asked the Experts," 21 July 2019 Rapper Tay-K is facing up to 99 years in prison after being found guilty of a brutal murder that occurred in 2016. Robyn Merrett,, "Rapper Tay-K, Infamous for Releasing Music While on the Run, Has Been Found Guilty of Murder," 19 July 2019 But, when all was said and done, they were tried by an impartial court and found not guilty. Declan Leary, National Review, "Conservatives Should Not Celebrate Religious Tyranny and Coercion," 19 July 2019 Following a six-day trial, Valdez was found guilty of first-degree felony murder, attempted aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, the news release said. Kirk Mitchell, The Denver Post, "Jeffco jury convicts woman of first-degree murder in death of man picking up barbecue," 19 July 2019 Her husband was found guilty of murder in 2007, but his conviction was overturned about a decade later because an appeals court found prosecutorial misconduct in the first trial. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "David Temple’s second wife on stand in murder retrial," 19 July 2019 The rapper, whose real name is Taymor McIntyre, wasn't the person who fired the gun that killed Walker, and his attorneys argued that was one of the reasons he should be found not guilty. CBS News, "Rapper Tay-K found guilty of murder in 2016 slaying during home invasion," 19 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'guilty.' 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 guilty

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

History and Etymology for guilty

see guilt entry 1

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Statistics for guilty

Last Updated

23 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for guilty

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

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More Definitions for guilty



English Language Learners Definition of guilty

: responsible for committing a crime or doing something bad or wrong
: showing that you know you have done something bad or wrong
: feeling bad because you have done something bad or wrong or because you believe you have done something bad or wrong


\ ˈgil-tē How to pronounce guilty (audio) \
guiltier; guiltiest

Kids Definition of guilty

1 : responsible for having done wrong
2 : suffering from or showing bad feelings about having done wrong I feel guilty about lying.

Other Words from guilty

guiltily \ -​tə-​lē \ adverb


guiltier; guiltiest

Legal Definition of guilty

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having committed a crime : justly charged with a specified crime guilty of larceny
2 : involving guilt or culpability guilty knowledge



Legal Definition of guilty (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a plea of a criminal defendant who does not intend to contest the charges
2 : a verdict of a jury that believes the defendant committed the crime charged — compare nolo contendere, not guilty, not guilty by reason of insanity

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More from Merriam-Webster on guilty

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with guilty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for guilty

Spanish Central: Translation of guilty

Nglish: Translation of guilty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of guilty for Arabic Speakers

Comments on guilty

What made you want to look up guilty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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