\ 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?
2a : 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

Other Words from guilty

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for guilty



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 The Chrisleys and Tarantino have pleaded not guilty to the charges and have been free on bond. Kate Brumback, ajc, 14 May 2022 Marilyn Mosby has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial this fall. Emily Opilo, Baltimore Sun, 14 May 2022 Frank James, the man accused of opening fire on a Brooklyn subway train last month, wounding 10 people, pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court to a two-count indictment that includes a federal terrorism charge. Meredith Deliso, ABC News, 13 May 2022 Both suspects have pleaded not guilty, KWLL reports. Greg Hanlon,, 13 May 2022 New details emerged in court this week as two of three people arrested in connection with a handful of explosions in Vista last week pleaded not guilty to several felonies, including igniting destructive devices. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 May 2022 DeMoss and Harper were fired and Brown, who in October pleaded not guilty in a separate federal case accusing him of pummeling another Black motorist 18 times with a flashlight, resigned. CBS News, 12 May 2022 The Los Angeles city attorney charged Isaiah Lee, 23, with four misdemeanors in connection with the attack, including battery and possession of a weapon with intent to assault; Mr. Lee has pleaded not guilty. New York Times, 12 May 2022 Juan Orlando Hernández, the former president of Honduras, pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court Tuesday following his recent extradition to the U.S. on drug-trafficking and weapons charges. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 11 May 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About guilty

Time Traveler for guilty

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near guilty

guilt trip


guilty as charged

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for guilty

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Guilty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for guilty


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on guilty

Nglish: Translation of guilty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of guilty for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Color

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!