Definition of GUILT


Guilt is a noun that describes the emotional and psychological state of remorse, self-reproach, or moral responsibility arising from one’s awareness of having committed a wrongdoing or violated moral or ethical standards. It encompasses several key aspects:

Emotional Distress: Guilt involves feelings of remorse, regret, or sorrow for one’s actions, decisions, or omissions perceived as morally wrong, harmful, or unjust, leading to emotional distress, anxiety, or inner turmoil.

Moral Accountability: Guilt signifies recognition of one’s moral responsibility or culpability for the consequences of one’s actions, including harm inflicted on others, violations of ethical standards, or breaches of trust.

Self-Reflection and Conscience: Guilt prompts self-reflection, introspection, or examination of one’s motives, intentions, and values, fostering awareness of moral principles, empathy for others, and a desire for reconciliation or redemption.

Behavioral Change and Repair: Addressing guilt often involves acknowledging wrongdoing, making amends, and seeking forgiveness or restitution, as well as committing to behavioral change, ethical growth, and personal development to prevent future transgressions.

In summary, guilt is the emotional and psychological state of remorse or moral responsibility arising from awareness of having committed a wrongdoing, encompassing emotional distress, moral accountability, self-reflection, and a commitment to repair and reconcile.

Examples of GUILT in a sentence

  • She felt a deep sense of guilt for not attending her friend’s wedding.
  • The weight of guilt consumed him after he lied to his parents.
  • He struggled with feelings of guilt after the accident, even though it wasn’t his fault.
  • The defendant’s guilt was evident from the evidence presented in court.
  • Her guilt prevented her from sleeping at night, knowing she had hurt someone’s feelings.
  • The therapist helped her work through her feelings of guilt and shame.
  • He couldn’t shake the guilt he felt for betraying his friend’s trust.
  • The child’s tears were a clear indication of his guilt after breaking the vase.

Etymology of GUILT

The term guilt has a linguistic history that spans various languages, reflecting its evolution in meaning and usage over time.

  • Old English Origins: The term “guilt” finds its earliest roots in Old English, where it was derived from the word “gylt,” meaning “offense” or “sin.” In its original context, “guilt” was primarily associated with moral or legal wrongdoing.
  • Germanic Influence: The Old English word “gylt” shares etymological connections with related words in other Germanic languages. For instance, in Old High German, “gult” also means “guilt” or “offense.”
  • Evolution in Middle English: Over time, the meaning of “guilt” expanded beyond its original association with moral transgressions to encompass a broader range of negative emotions, particularly feelings of remorse, responsibility, or culpability. This semantic expansion occurred during the Middle English period as societal attitudes towards morality and ethics evolved.
  • Integration into Modern English: The term “guilt” continued to be used in its expanded sense in Modern English, referring to both the state of having committed a wrongdoing and the accompanying emotional response. It has become a common descriptor for individuals who experience feelings of remorse or self-reproach.

The term guilt thus represents a linguistic progression from its Old English origins, through influences from other Germanic languages, to its modern usage in English, where it describes both the act of wrongdoing and the associated emotional response.


  • Remorse
  • Shame
  • Regret
  • Repentance
  • Contrition
  • Blame
  • Culpa
  • Self-reproach


  • Innocence
  • Absolution
  • Purity
  • Virtue
  • Absolution
  • Exoneration
  • Acquittal
  • Justification


  • Conscience
  • Consequence
  • Responsibility
  • Morality
  • Accountability
  • Punishment
  • Atonement
  • Redemption

🌐 🇬🇧 GUILT in other languages

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