View synonyms for guilty


[ gil-tee ]


, guilt·i·er, guilt·i·est.
  1. having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; justly subject to a certain accusation or penalty; culpable:

    The jury found her guilty of murder.

  2. characterized by, connected with, or involving guilt:

    guilty intent.

    Synonyms: nefarious, illicit, culpable, felonious, criminal

  3. having or showing a sense of guilt, whether real or imagined:

    a guilty conscience.


/ ˈɡɪltɪ /


  1. responsible for an offence or misdeed
  2. law having committed an offence or adjudged to have done so

    the accused was found guilty

  3. plead guilty
    law (of a person charged with an offence) to admit responsibility; confess
  4. of, showing, or characterized by guilt

    a guilty smile

    guilty pleasures

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Derived Forms

  • ˈguiltiness, noun
  • ˈguiltily, adverb

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Other Words From

  • guilti·ly adverb
  • guilti·ness noun
  • over·guilty adjective
  • quasi-guilti·ly adverb
  • quasi-guilty adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of guilty1

First recorded before 1000; Middle English; Old English gyltig; equivalent to guilt + -y 1

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Compare Meanings

How does guilty compare to similar and commonly confused words? Explore the most common comparisons:

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Example Sentences

He researched the charge in depth, challenged his ticket in court and was found not guilty.

In March 2008, Chi Mak is found guilty and sentenced to 24 years in prison for conspiring to export military technology to China, among other crimes.

All four, who face up to 20 years in prison on each of the two counts they face, have pleaded not guilty, and Bannon has called the charges a plot to stop border wall construction.

“People are more likely to feel guilty taking time off right now,” Bandurian said.

From Fortune

In less than half those cases, 22, people were found guilty of voting in two states.

From Fortune

Slowly, slowly, dance classes may cease to be such secret and guilty pleasures in Iran.

They were found guilty of practicing habitual debauchery and inciting others to sexual deviance because of the footage.

He did not plead guilty, and has regularly filed petitions in an effort to prove his innocence.

What he has said publicly is an apology for colonialism, something we are not guilty of in Cuba.

There is no requirement for a member of Congress to resign after pleading guilty to a felony.

All the miserable stratagems they had been guilty of to win him; the dishonest plotting and planning.

He was guilty of the weakness of taking refuge in what is called, I believe, in legal phrase, a side-issue.

Ned reached home about breakfast time, and "fetched up" at the back door, with a decidedly guilty countenance.

He felt rather guilty as he strolled beside this girl whose father had succeeded.

Never in her life had the vicar's wife been guilty of profanity till now, but the opportunity was too golden to be missed.


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More About Guilty

What does guilty mean?

If you’re guilty, it means you were responsible for doing something wrong, especially a crime. If you’re found guilty, it means a jury has officially decided that you committed a crime. If you feel guilty, it means you feel bad about something you shouldn’t have done or should have done but didn’t.

In a legal context, guilty is the opposite of innocent (not guilty). It is often used in an official sense, but not always.

Example: Once when I was a kid I shoplifted a stick of gum from the store and felt so guilty about it that I was crying by the time I got home.

Where does guilty come from?

Guilty is an old word. It is believed to have been in use since before the year 1000. It is based on the noun guilt, which ultimately comes from the Old English gylt, meaning “offense.” The suffix -y is used to turn the noun into an adjective.

If you’re guilty, it means you did it. In legal usage, labeling someone guilty usually indicates that it has been officially determined—without a doubt—that they have committed a crime. In the United States, a person suspected of a crime has the right to be “presumed innocent until proven guilty.” This means a jury should only find a person guilty if there is indisputable evidence—meaning absolute proof.

A person found guilty is sometimes called the guilty party (in which party refers to a person or group). This phrase is also used outside of the courtroom. In everyday contexts, guilty is often used in a less official and often less serious way to refer to someone who’s responsible for some offense, as in I’m definitely guilty of snacking too much. But it can be serious, as in You may not have committed a crime, but you’re guilty of ruining this company.

Guilty is also used to describe the feeling of guilt or regret. For example, a person may feel guilty for something they did (like breaking a vase and lying about it) or something they didn’t do (like missing their friend’s birthday party). Feeling guilty often happens when the truth is hidden, as in the case of the vase, and this idea is what’s implied in the phrase guilty conscience.

A less serious use of guilty is found in the phrase guilty pleasure, which is something that you enjoy but feel a little embarrassed or shameful about.

Did you know …?

What are some other forms related to guilty?

  • guilt (noun)
  • guiltier (adjective, comparative form)
  • guiltiest (adjective, superlative form)
  • guiltily (adverb)
  • guiltiness (noun)
  • overguilty (adjective)
  • quasi-guilty (adverb)

What are some synonyms for guilty?

What are some words that share a root or word element with guilty

What are some words that often get used in discussing guilty?

What are some words guilty may be commonly confused with?

How is guilty used in real life?

In a legal context, the word guilty shouldn’t be used lightly, since it implies a certainty of guilt. In normal conversation, guilty is often used in the context of lesser offenses or a feeling of regret.

Try using guilty!​

Is guilty used correctly in the following sentence?

“He didn’t cause the accident, but he still feels guilty.”




guilt tripguilty pleasure