If you feel sorry for something you have done, or if you believe you made a mistake that has gone uncorrected, you might feel some guilt.

  • Yonas felt a tremendous amount of guilt about leaving his family in Ethiopia.
  • Aisha experienced some guilt after her divorce.
  • Guilt was written all over the young man’s face.
  • The guilt you feel is worse than any punishment you might receive.
  • The jury was left to decide the defendant’s guilt or innocence.

The adjective form of this word is guilty:

  • The boy who stole the candy from the store had a guilty expression on his face.
  • The jury decided the suspect was guilty. (In this United States, a jury of citizens–not a judge–decide guilt or innocence)
  • The defendant entered a guilty plea.*
  • My dog looks guilty. I wonder what she did.
  • Brandon felt guilty about something he had done, so he admitted his mistake to a priest and felt better afterwards.
  • I feel guilty about not helping the man who asked for money.
  • Every man is guilty of the good he did not do. (A quotation from Voltaire.)

pleading guilty He pleaded guilty and begged the judge for a light sentence.

*Note: In the United States, lawyers often advise their clients to admit guilt when accused of a crime because it results in a lesser punishment.

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This page was first published on February 15, 2013. It was updated on January 7, 2017.