\ˈgil-tē \
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 \ adverb
guiltiness \ˈgil-tē-nəs \ 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

Meissenn, Brinson, Dalmy and three other individuals also pleaded guilty to various offenses stemming from this scheme. Courant Staff Report,, "Conspirator In $20 Million Pump-And-Dump Scheme Gets 7 Years," 13 July 2018 Weinstein pleaded not guilty after he was brought into the courtroom while handcuffed from behind, then uncuffed for the proceeding. Fox News, "Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty, released on bail," 10 July 2018 When Flynn pleaded guilty to a federal crime last December, most people assumed that his life as a hot-shot D.C. influence peddler was over. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Beautiful: This Former Criminal Just Got the Second Chance of a Lifetime," 10 July 2018 His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said last week that Weinstein would plead not guilty. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Harvey Weinstein in New York court for new sex-crime charges," 9 July 2018 Weinstein pleaded not guilty after he was brought into the courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back. Michael Sisak,, "Harvey Weinstein pleads not guilty, released on bail," 9 July 2018 According to the New York Daily News, the Congolese immigrant pleaded not guilty to her federal misdemeanors of trespassing, interference with government agency functions, and disorderly conduct., "Black Woman Who Climbed Statue Of Liberty Says She Was Inspired By Michelle Obama," 6 July 2018 WAUKESHA - Despite acknowledging his actions in a criminal complaint, the Eagle man who led authorities on a 15-day manhunt following a violent dispute with his wife has pleaded not guilty to all charges linked to the incident. Jim Riccioli, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Eagle man charged in violent dispute with wife, multi-state manhunt pleads not guilty," 29 June 2018 Cantu originally pleaded not guilty to the charges in her latest criminal case. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, "Star witness in Uresti trial strikes plea in own criminal case," 29 June 2018

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

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Statistics for guilty

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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 \
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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Comments on guilty

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one that holds something together

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