I would like to know what "Guilty!" means in the following sentences:

‘Hannah,’ Will says, turning to me with that famous, generous smile of his. ‘You look stunning.’

‘Thanks.’ I take a big gulp of my champagne, feeling sexy, a little bit reckless.

‘I meant to ask, on the jetty – did we meet at the engagement drinks?’

‘No,’ I say, apologetically. ‘We couldn’t make it up from Brighton, sadly.’

‘Maybe I’ve seen you in one of Jules’s photos then. You seem familiar.’

‘Maybe,’ I say. I don’t think so. I can’t imagine Jules displaying a photo that includes me; she’s got plenty of just her and Charlie. But I know what Will’s doing: helping me feel welcome, one of the gang. I appreciate the kindness. ‘You know,’ I say, ‘I think I’m getting the same feeling about you. Might I have seen you somewhere before? You know . . . like on my TV set?’

It was corny but Will laughs anyway, a rich, low sound, and I feel as though I’ve just won something. ‘Guilty!’ he says, raising his hands. As he does I get a gust of that cologne again: moss and pine, a forest floor via an expensive department store perfume hall. He asks me about the kids, about Brighton. He seems fascinated by what I’m saying. He’s one of those people who makes you feel wittier and more attractive than normal. I realise I’m enjoying myself, enjoying the delicious glass of chilled champagne.

  • Lucy Foley, The Guest List, Chapter 12

This is a thriller novel published in 2020 in the United Kingdom. One hundred and fifty guests would be gathering at some remote and deserted fictional islet called Inis an Amplóra off the coast of the island of Ireland to celebrate the wedding between Jules (a self-made woman running an online magazine called The Download) and Will (a celebrity appearing in a TV show program called Survive the Night). The day before the actual wedding day, Hannah, the wife of Charlie (Jules' friend), arrived at the island and is now at the dinner party for the rehearsal dinner with only some selected guests. And during the party, Will approaches Hannah and asks her whether they had met before, because she seems familiar to him. Then Hannah asks the same question to Will, saying that she might have seen him on her TV set. At this remark, Will says, "Guilty!"

In this part, I wonder why he said "Guilty!". Is he jokingly implying that he was breaking into her house, rather than appearing on her TV set...? (This is just my wild guess.)

  • 5
    No, he just means "What you say about me is true," - she will have seen him on TV. Apr 14, 2021 at 8:25

1 Answer 1


Quoting the Wiktionary definition of the phrase guilty as charged:

  1. (literally, law) Guilty to the same extent as one is charged; guilty to all the court's accusations.
  2. (by extension) Truly, indeed, verily responsible for having done something.

The exclamation "Guilty!" has the same two meanings:

  1. The literal one admitting that you committed a crime.
  2. The extension of that meaning where you're taking responsibility for having done something.

This second meaning is definitely informal and somewhat humorous. You usually use it when someone discovers something about you, the way a detective discovers secret information about a criminal; but in the informal use it isn't necessarily confessing something bad or wrong.

So in your example, what he means is, "Yes! You have correctly figured out that I have been on TV!"

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