con·​fess | \kən-ˈfes \
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 \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for confess


acknowledge, admit, agree, allow, concede, fess (up), grant, own (up to)



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Choose the Right Synonym for confess

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

McCellan also confessed to gunning down two people — one in August 2015 and another just two months later. Lauren Lumpkin,, "Baltimore gang member pleads guilty to drug charges," 12 July 2018 The men acquitted of the killing, Bryant and Milam, subsequently confessed to the crime in an interview with Look magazine. Jenny Jarvie,, "Justice Department reopens Emmett Till case. His killing in 1955 put a spotlight on racial violence," 12 July 2018 Dahmer, who would die less than three years into his life sentence, also confessed to consuming parts of his victims’ bodies., "Serial Killers Who Inspired Haunting Hollywood Portrayals," 12 July 2018 According to the affidavit, Belcher confessed to opening the F-350’s doors and going inside the truck, while Forbes denied any involvement in the burglary. Jeff Weiner,, "While towing suspected burglar's car, deputies make a back-seat discovery: a baby alligator," 9 July 2018 Nelson also confessed to breaking into the Backyard Grille, 5987 Carlton Drive in Burlington, and stealing three bottles of liquor on June 27, according to authorities. Madeline Mitchell,, "Police: Boone County booze burglar broke into 2 bars," 3 July 2018 The case was closed in 2007 when authorities advised that the two men who had been charged with and acquitted of the crime (but later confessed to a journalist) were dead, the AP reported. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "The Emmett Till Case Is Being Reopened by the Department of Justice," 12 July 2018 Dalhover survived and confessed that the gang had robbed about 150 stores, four jewelry stores, and three banks prior to the robbery of the Goodland State Bank. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "'Kill-Crazy' Brady gang tried to out-gangster John Dillinger," 29 June 2018 At Dassey's separate trial, video of him speaking with investigators and confessing to participating in Halbach's rape and murder played a central role. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Supreme Court declines to hear case of "Making a Murderer" subject Brendan Dassey," 25 June 2018

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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Statistics for confess

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for confess

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

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More Definitions for confess



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 \
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


transitive verb
con·​fess | \kən-ˈfes \

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 \ noun

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Comments on confess

What made you want to look up confess? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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