from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense; moral culpability. synonym: blame.
  • noun Law The fact of having been found to have violated a criminal law; legal culpability.
  • noun Responsibility for a mistake or error.
  • noun Remorseful awareness of having done something wrong.
  • noun Self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing.
  • transitive verb To make or try to make (someone) feel guilty.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To commit offenses; act criminally.
  • An obsolete spelling of gilt.
  • noun A fault; an offense; a guilty action; a crime.
  • noun That state of a moral agent which results from his commission of a crime or an offense wilfully or by consent; culpability arising from conscious violation of moral or penal law, either by positive act or by neglect of known duty; criminality; wickedness.
  • noun Technical or constructive criminality; exposure to forfeiture or other penalty.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The criminality and consequent exposure to punishment resulting from willful disobedience of law, or from morally wrong action; the state of one who has broken a moral or political law; crime; criminality; offense against right.
  • noun Exposure to any legal penalty or forfeiture.
  • noun A feeling of regret or remorse for having committed some improper act; a recognition of one's own responsibility for doing something wrong.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb intransitive, obsolete To commit offenses; act criminally.
  • verb transitive To cause someone to feel guilt, particularly in order to influence their behaviour.
  • noun Responsibility for wrongdoing.
  • noun Awareness of having done wrong.
  • noun The fact of having done wrong.
  • noun law The state of having been found guilty or admitted guilt in legal proceedings.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the state of having committed an offense
  • noun remorse caused by feeling responsible for some offense


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English gilt, from Old English gylt, crime.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English gilten, gylten, from Old English gyltan ("to commit sin, be guilty"), from gylt ("guilt, sin, offense, crime, fault").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English gilt, gult, from Old English gylt ("guilt, sin, offense, crime, fault"), of obscure origin. Perhaps connected with Old English ġieldan ("to yield, pay, pay for, reward, requite, render, worship, serve, sacrifice to, punish"). See yield.


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  • II. ii.56 (444,8) gild the faces of the grooms withal,/For it must seem their guilt] Could Shakespeare possibly mean to play upon the similitude of _gild_ and _guilt_.

    Notes to Shakespeare, Volume III: The Tragedies Samuel Johnson 1746

  • And this is that which we call guilt, which is an inward vexation, and discontent, and grief of mind, arising from the consciousness that we have done amiss, and a fearful apprehension of some vengeance and punishment that will follow it; and there is no trouble that is comparable to this, when the conscience of

    The Works of Dr. John Tillotson, Late Archbishop of Canterbury. Vol. 09. 1630-1694 1820

  • LUI: A former '60s radical speaks out about Barack Obama, the presidential campaign and what he calls guilt by association.

    CNN Transcript Dec 7, 2008 2008

  • Intellectualism sees what it calls the guilt, when comminuted in the finite object; but is too near-sighted to see it in the more enormous object.

    A Pluralistic Universe Hibbert Lectures at Manchester College on the Present Situation in Philosophy William James 1876

  • God does not cut off the wicked at once, but waits till their guilt is at its full (so as to the Amorites 'iniquity, Ge 15: 16), to show forth His own long-suffering, and the justice of their doom who have so long abused it (Mt 13: 27-30, 38, 40; Re 14: 15-19).

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible 1871

  • Here, we are also dealing with what I call a "guilt window," when a settlement deal could be more generous to her.

    The Full Feed from The Huffington Post News Editors 2011

  • The observation may be extended further, and put thus: even without determining what that is which we call guilt or innocence, there is no man but would choose, after having had the pleasure or advantage of a vicious action, to be free of the guilt of it, to be in the state of an innocent man.

    Human Nature and Other Sermons Joseph Butler 1722

  • It hurts, but it’s a hurt I should feel, that I need to feel, not because wallowing in guilt is useful but because if nothing else it is a reminder that I am privileged, and that just as straight people, white people, and men have an obligation to help end their oppression of queers, people of colour, and women — I have an obligation to help end my oppression of the dis/abled.

    re:appropriate « Love | Peace | Ohana 2007

  • The term guilt always supposes personal transgression, except in technical theology, from which we would banish it.’’ —

    Christian Doctrine of Sin 1823-1886 1876

  • Being to act contrary to them in any case, would be to create disquiet and disturbance to itself: for this is a certain rule, and never fails, that nothing can act contrary to its own nature without reluctancy and displeasure, which in moral agents is that which we call guilt; for guilt is nothing else but the trouble and disquiet which ariseth in one's mind, from the consciousness of having done something which is contrary to the perfective principles of his being; that is, something that doth not become him, and which, being what he is, he ought not to have done; which we cannot imagine ever to befal so perfect and immutable a being as God is.

    The Works of Dr. John Tillotson, Late Archbishop of Canterbury. Vol. 06. 1630-1694 1820


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