\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

In one of the first cases to arise from Mr. Mueller’s inquiry, Mr. Flynn agreed to plead guilty last December and admitted to wrongdoing related to the Turkey project and other matters related to Russia. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "Prosecutors Looking at Turkey Lobbying by Michael Flynn’s Ex-Firm," 6 Dec. 2018 And with red carpet season gearing up, consider Spaeny guilty of getting a fashionable head start. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "On the Basis of Sex," 9 Nov. 2018 The letters were very convincing: two of them featured in The Letters of Noël Coward published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2007, over ten years after Israel pleaded guilty for her crimes. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The True Story of Lee Israel and the Literary Forgeries in Can You Ever Forgive Me?," 12 Sep. 2018 Barriss also pleaded guilty to 46 counts in a separate case brought in federal court in Los Angeles. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Man pleads guilty to swatting attack that led to death of Kansas man," 14 Nov. 2018 His business pleaded guilty to one felony count of second-degree theft, although Sahagun maintains the company’s innocence. Heidi Groover, The Seattle Times, "State drops charges against Tacos Guaymas owner accused of tax theft," 13 Nov. 2018 Cohen has already pleaded guilty to two campaign finance charges in connection with all this back in August. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "A new report says Trump was directly involved in campaign finance crimes," 9 Nov. 2018 So the judge dismisses them and the D.A. offers a deal in lieu of another trial: time served in juvie if Archie pleads guilty to manslaughter. Jessica Macleish, Teen Vogue, ""Riverdale" Recap Season 3 Episode 1: Does Archie Go to Jail?," 11 Oct. 2018 Rick Gates, another Trump campaign aide, pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and one conspiracy charge. Rob Tornoe,, "Ahead of Trump's meeting with Putin, Mueller indicts 12 Russians for hacking DNC emails," 13 July 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

10 Dec 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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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).


to enclose within walls

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