con·​fess | \ kən-ˈfes How to pronounce confess (audio) \
confessed; confessing; confesses

Definition of confess

transitive verb

1 : to tell or make known (something, such as something wrong or damaging to oneself) : admit he confessed his guilt
2a : to acknowledge (sin) to God or to a priest
b : to receive the confession of (a penitent)
3 : to declare faith in or adherence to : profess
4 : to give evidence of Breeze, bird, and flower confess the hour …— Sir Walter Scott

intransitive verb

1a : to disclose one's faults specifically : to unburden one's sins or the state of one's conscience to God or to a priest
b : to hear a confession
2 : admit, own confess to a crime

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Other Words from confess

confessable \ kən-​ˈfe-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce confessable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for confess


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acknowledge, admit, own, avow, confess mean to disclose against one's will or inclination. acknowledge implies the disclosing of something that has been or might be concealed. acknowledged an earlier peccadillo admit implies reluctance to disclose, grant, or concede and refers usually to facts rather than their implications. admitted the project was over budget own implies acknowledging something in close relation to oneself. must own I know little about computers avow implies boldly declaring, often in the face of hostility, what one might be expected to be silent about. avowed that he was a revolutionary confess may apply to an admission of a weakness, failure, omission, or guilt. confessed a weakness for sweets

Examples of confess in a Sentence

He confessed after being questioned for many hours. He willingly confessed his crime. I have to confess that I was afraid at first. I confessed my sins to the priest.
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Recent Examples on the Web Democrats who say their conservative colleagues confess their anti-Trump feelings in private have a choice: Burn your sources or stay complicit in the lie. Speaking with CNN on Tuesday morning, Democratic Senator Chris Coons danced a tired routine. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Why Are Democrats Shielding Republican Liars?," 10 Nov. 2020 In an echo of Cultural Revolution practice, when party members were made to confess political sins, the station demanded Mr. Xiong type up two self-criticisms of his behavior. Chao Deng And Liza Lin, WSJ, "In Xi Jinping’s China, Nationalism Takes a Dark Turn," 22 Oct. 2020 Inmates are not required to confess their crimes and express regret to be found suitable for parole. San Francisco Chronicle, "A confession, 36 years late," 22 Oct. 2020 There is no direct evidence of such a scheme—no accomplice has stepped forward to confess their involvement. Brendan I. Koerner, Wired, "A Poker Pro Accused of Cheating Wants $330M in Damages," 6 Oct. 2020 Hud is also nervous for the shindig, dreading his need to confess something to the brother he's been inseparable from since birth. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Taylor Jenkins Reid announces she's taking us to the '80s with new novel Malibu Rising," 22 Sep. 2020 After torturing Afkari for months and forcing him to confess to murdering a security guard, the regime sentenced him to death. Reza Pahlavi, WSJ, "Navid Afkari’s Murder Was a Message," 13 Sep. 2020 The wrestler was handed two death sentences after being accused of killing a security guard during anti-regime protests in 2018, but Afkari maintained his innocence and claimed he was forced to confess after brutal torture. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Iran executes wrestler Navid Afkari despite pleas from Trump and Dana White," 12 Sep. 2020 The two soldiers confess their crimes in a monotone, a few blinks of the eye their only betrayal of emotion: executions, mass burials, village obliterations and rape. Hannah Beech, Star Tribune, "Myanmar army deserters confirm atrocities against Rohingya Muslims," 8 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'confess.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of confess

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for confess

Middle English, from Anglo-French confesser, from confés having confessed, from Latin confessus, past participle of confitēri to confess, from com- + fatēri to confess; akin to Latin fari to speak — more at ban

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Time Traveler for confess

Time Traveler

The first known use of confess was in the 14th century

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Statistics for confess

Last Updated

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Confess.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for confess


How to pronounce confess (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of confess

: to admit that you did something wrong or illegal
: to talk about or admit something that makes you embarrassed, ashamed, etc.
: to tell (your sins) to God or to a priest


con·​fess | \ kən-ˈfes How to pronounce confess (audio) \
confessed; confessing

Kids Definition of confess

1 : to tell of doing something wrong or illegal or of something embarrassing : admit confessed to the crime confessed being jealous
2 : to admit committing sins to God or to a priest
con·​fess | \ kən-ˈfes How to pronounce confess (audio) \

Legal Definition of confess

: to admit (as a charge or allegation) as true, proven, or valid unless you answer, the petition shall be taken as confessed

intransitive verb

: to make a confession

Other Words from confess

confessor \ kən-​ˈfe-​sər How to pronounce confessor (audio) \ noun

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