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Re: Guilt-ridden or if you like, riddled with guilt.

Posted by TheFallen on January 19, 2003

In Reply to: Guilt riddled vs. guilt ridden posted by Robert on January 19, 2003

: I have an ongoing argument with a friend over the which word, riddled or ridden, is correct to use with guilt. Any opinions?

It's definitely guilt ridden when used in this combination. The following paste from the American Heritage Dictionary:-

Ridden

VERB: Past participle of ride.
ADJECTIVE: Dominated, harassed, or obsessed by. Often used in combination: disease-ridden; grief-ridden.

However, and confusingly enough, one can be "riddled with" something like guilt or disease, "riddled" there meaning pierced throughout, as the following paste from the same source shows:-

Riddle

TRANSITIVE VERB: Inflected forms: rid·dled, rid·dling, rid·dles
1. To pierce with numerous holes; perforate: riddle a target with bullets. 2. To spread throughout: "Election campaigns have always been riddled with demagogy and worse" (New Republic). 3. To put (gravel, for example) through a coarse sieve.
NOUN: A coarse sieve, as for gravel.

This may well explain the reason for your dispute.