From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishguiltguilt1 /ɡɪlt/ ●●○ noun [uncountable] 1 GUILTY/FEEL GUILTYa strong feeling of shame and sadness because you know that you have done something wrong He used to buy them expensive presents, out of guilt.guilt about/at/over Don’t you have any feelings of guilt about leaving David? He felt an enormous sense of guilt when he thought about how he’d treated her. I was racked with guilt at my part in making her this unhappy. Sometimes I felt little pangs of guilt.2 SCTthe fact that you have broken an official law or moral rule OPP innocence He did not deny his guilt.3 BLAMEresponsibility and blame for something bad that has happenedguilt for Guilt for poorly behaved children usually lies with the parents.4 → be on a guilt trip5 → lay a guilt trip on somebodyCOLLOCATIONSverbshave guiltI had a lot of guilt about what had happened.feel guiltShe didn’t feel any guilt; she had done nothing wrong.be consumed with/racked with/overwhelmed by guilt (=feel very guilty)Later he was horrified that he had hit her, and was racked by guilt.assuage somebody’s guilt formal (=make someone feel less guilty)She died before I got there, and there was nothing I could do to assuage my guilt and regret.phrasesa feeling/sense of guilt (also guilt feelings)I had a permanent feeling of guilt that I didn't see Mum and Dad as often as I should.a pang/twinge/stab of guiltRichard felt a pang of guilt, knowing that he had forgotten her birthday.a burden of guilt (=a strong feeling of guilt)Many children feel a burden of guilt when their parents divorce, believing that they have caused the separation.guilt + NOUNa guilt complex (=when you cannot stop feeling guilty, although it is unnecessary)Some of the survivors developed a guilt complex. Why had they lived when others had died?adjectivescollective guilt (=guilt shared by each member of a group or society)Should we feel some kind of collective guilt for what happened in the past? THESAURUSguilt the feeling you have when you have done something you know is wrongDivorce often leaves people with feelings of guilt.shame the feeling of being guilty or embarrassed that you have after doing something that is wrong, when you feel you have lost people’s respectI was too scared to help him, and I was filled with shame.regret a feeling of sadness about something, especially because you wish it had not happenedKate watched her go with a pang of regret.remorse a strong feeling of being sorry for doing something very bada murderer who showed no remorsecontrition formal a feeling of being guilty and sorry for something wrong that you have doneThe company CEO expressed contrition for the errors that led to the crash.He sounded full of contrition.They wanted to perform some kind of act of contrition (=do something that shows you feel sorry for something ).penitence formal a feeling of being sorry for something that you have done wrong, when you do not intend to do it againHe expressed genuine penitence at the harm he had done her.a period of reflection and penitenceconscience the part of your mind that tells you whether what you are doing is morally right or wrongMy conscience has been troubling me ever since.
Examples from the Corpusguilt• Guilt can be a very destructive emotion.• I hear his words but am too exhausted by guilt and remorse to answer.• Wanda Kaczynski is plagued by guilt.• Burrows makes me feel slightly less guilty, and the less guilt, the better-for me and the children.• People often have feelings of guilt after a divorce.• Poor little Sophie would by now be suffering pangs of guilt for her behaviour towards me.• Or had she cut her wrists in a paroxysm of guilt?• From expectation, responsibility, guilt?• The juror was sure of the defendant's guilt.• Most of the guilt for his poor academic performance lies with him.• The guilt that deprived her of her solitary pleasures had not been helpful to her children.pangs of guilt• Sometimes I felt little pangs of guilt, but my manager quickly talked me out of that.• Poor little Sophie would by now be suffering pangs of guilt for her behaviour towards me.• Men too suffer the pangs of guilt - although they have not yet become as expert as women.guiltguilt2 verb → guilt somebody into something→ See Verb tableOrigin guilt1 Old English gylt