You experience guilt when you feel bad about doing something wrong or committing some offense. Guilt is also the state of having committed the offense — it's the opposite of "innocence."

The noun guilt stems from the Old English word gylt, meaning "crime, sin, fault, or fine." Feelings of guilt are typical after you've done something you shouldn't have, like cheating on your spelling test or stealing from your little brother's piggy bank. We often say that our conscience is the source of this feeling. If you're the prosecuting attorney in a criminal trial, your job is to prove the guilt of the defendant, that is, to prove that they committed the crime you're accusing them of.

Definitions of guilt

n the state of having committed an offense

a state or condition of being innocent of a specific crime or offense
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blameworthiness, culpability, culpableness
a state of guilt
the state of being guilty of bloodshed and murder
guilt as an accomplice in a crime or offense
criminalism, criminality, criminalness
the state of being a criminal
guilt by association
the attribution of guilt (without proof) to individuals because the people they associate with are guilty
impeachability, indictability
the state of being liable to impeachment
Type of:
condition, status
a state at a particular time

n remorse caused by feeling responsible for some offense

guilt feelings, guilt trip, guilty conscience
survivor guilt
a deep feeling of guilt often experienced by those who have survived some catastrophe that took the lives of many others; derives in part from a feeling that they did not do enough to save the others who perished and in part from feelings of being unworthy relative to those who died
Type of:
compunction, remorse, self-reproach
a feeling of deep regret (usually for some misdeed)

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