guiltier; guiltiest
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
a
: suggesting or involving guilt
The children exchanged guilty looks.
b
: aware of or suffering from guilt
guilty consciences
3
obsolete : justly liable to or deserving of a penalty
guiltily adverb
guiltiness noun
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.
Recent Examples on the Web And those who have pleaded guilty to obstruction but have not yet been sentenced could withdraw those pleas. Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, 10 Apr. 2024 The former officers pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice, according to court records. Emma Tucker, CNN, 10 Apr. 2024 The men previously pleaded guilty to more than a dozen federal charges and were sentenced to between 10 and 40 years in federal prison in March. USA TODAY, 10 Apr. 2024 The following year, a nurse at the facility pleaded guilty to tampering with the fentanyl meant for the women’s procedures, having replaced the opioid with saline. Dr. Sharon Malone, TIME, 9 Apr. 2024 Police have booked on suspicion of murder a third suspect in a March 2020 homicide in northwest Fort Worth in which two others have pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Emerson Clarridge, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 9 Apr. 2024 Their son Ethan pleaded guilty to his crimes and is serving life in prison without parole. Lily Altavena, Detroit Free Press, 9 Apr. 2024 Anyone found guilty of violating the ban will face two to five years in state prison. Libby Cathey, ABC News, 9 Apr. 2024 In 2024, Jennifer and James Crumbley were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter; they were each sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison. Anna Betts, New York Times, 9 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'guilty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

see guilt entry 1

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near guilty

Cite this Entry

“Guilty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/guilty. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

guilty

adjective
guiltier; guiltiest
1
: having done wrong
2
a
: suggesting or involving guilt
a guilty manner
b
: aware of or suffering from guilt
a guilty conscience
guiltily adverb
guiltiness noun

Legal Definition

guilty

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

guilty

2 of 2 noun
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

More from Merriam-Webster on guilty

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