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

Brawley got him to confess where to find the body of a 16-year-old girl the escapees had killed, along with her family. Jerod Macdonald-evoy, azcentral, "Tom Brawley, lawman who led the chase for Tison Gang 40 years ago, dies," 13 June 2018 Let’s look at the Broward County tragedy with a touch of pragmatism: This confessed killer had a long history of antisocial behavioral problems and mental trouble. Andrew Malcolm, San Francisco Chronicle, "What we can do about gun violence — follow the law," 22 Feb. 2018 The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview but weren’t retried. Jay Reeves,, "US reopens probe of notorious 1955 slaying of black teen in Miss.," 12 July 2018 The men later confessed to perpetrating the murder, but were never retried. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "The Justice Department Has Reopened Its Investigation into the Murder of Emmett Till," 12 July 2018 The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview but weren't retried. Jay Reeves, Anchorage Daily News, "‘New information’ prompts US to reopen investigation of brutal 1955 slaying of black teen," 12 July 2018 The men later confessed to the crime in a magazine interview but weren't retried. Jay Reeves, Fox News, "Official: Renewed Emmett Till probe prompted by 2017 book," 12 July 2018 Greitens confessed to the affair, but denied any blackmail. Linley Sanders, Teen Vogue, "Missouri Governor Eric Greitens Resigned Amid Blackmail and Ethics Allegations," 30 May 2018 Suffolk County District Judge Robert Cicale confessed to his underwear thievery but has not pleaded guilty to burglary. Hanna Krueger,, "Judge admits to serial underwear theft, faces 15 years in prison: report," 31 Mar. 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

1 Sep 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).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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