Guilt vs. Shame

Now, how about some tricky vocabulary words? I know you might think 'what's with all these words?' but trust me, you'll learn a lot.

"Guilt" vs. "Shame" in English

What Is Their Main Difference?

'Guilt' and 'shame' are both feelings and they come when we do something wrong. However, 'guilt' is a feeling when someone knows they have done something wrong to another person. 'Shame', on the other hand, is when we have not necessarily done anything wrong, but we do not like how others see us as an individual.


'Shame' happens when someone is afraid of how others might judge him/her. In other words, they feel awkward. When someone feels shameful, it does not necessarily mean they have done something wrong. Look at the following examples:

Shame on me for trusting you again.

It is difficult to differentiate between your feelings for instance: 'guilt' and 'shame'.

'Guilt' refers to the feeling when we have done something wrong. We are consciously aware of the fact that we have done something wrong like offended someone, hurt someone physically, emotionally, or verbally. Check out the following examples:

The guilt I feel is beyond me.

Some say sociopaths are not able to feel guilt the way mentally stable people do.


Both refer to the different emotions of a living creature. Take a look at the following examples:

Stop pretending that you know the kind of guilt I'm feeling inside.

Such a shame to have ever talked to you.

Are They Interchangeable?

Although some people use these terms interchangeably, if you want to be precise, especially in the field of psychology, you should know the differences. Compare:

✓ After having gone to therapy, I'm finally able to sit with my feelings like guilt.

✓ After having gone to therapy, I'm finally able to sit with my feelings like shame.

This one is also correct but it has a different psychological meaning.


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