\ 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

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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



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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 The 74-year old avoided the death penalty by taking a plea deal, pleading guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and 13 kidnapping counts in six counties. Kellie Hwang,, "The Golden State Killer case: A roundup of the Chronicle’s coverage," 29 June 2020 Ten union officials and a late official’s spouse have pleaded guilty in the probe since 2017, including former President Gary Jones. Washington Post, "Ex-UAW president repays union $55k for travel expenses," 29 June 2020 He was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to several charges, including unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, in April. oregonlive, "Body found near North Plains confirmed to be Allyson Watterson," 27 June 2020 While Johnson has no open cases against him, he has been convicted or pleaded guilty at least three times, including for felony theft, according to the court records and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Fox News, "Wisconsin violence erupted over arrest of activist with felony conviction, history of controversial social media posts," 26 June 2020 Rudolph avoided the possibility of execution by pleading guilty on April 13, 2005 to the bombing in Birmingham and bombings in Atlanta, including the Olympic Centennial Park blast in 1996 that injured more than 120. Carol Robinson |, al, "Serial bomber Eric Robert Rudolph wants out of prison," 25 June 2020 Former USA Gymnastics doctor Nassar is serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges in 2017. Ginger Rough, The Indianapolis Star, "Go behind the scenes of 'Athlete A' with IndyStar journalists Thursday," 24 June 2020 Roginsky pleaded guilty in January to charges of drug and money-laundering conspiracies. John Caniglia, cleveland, "3 men, including brother of Olympic, former WWE wrestler Kurt Angle, fined in federal steroid case," 24 June 2020 The lenient punishment his assailants received after pleading guilty to manslaughter — probation and a $3,000 fine, with no prison time — sparked protests across the country and united people from different ethnic groups. NBC News, "Anniversary of Vincent Chin's death relevant in era of 'Kung flu' and COVID-19 blame, experts say," 23 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for guilty

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for guilty

Last Updated

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Guilty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for guilty


How to pronounce guilty (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for guilty

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with guilty

Spanish Central: Translation of guilty

Nglish: Translation of guilty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of guilty for Arabic Speakers

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