verb con·fess \ kən-ˈfes \
|Updated on: 7 Jul 2018

Definition of confess

confessed; confessing; confesses
1 : to tell or make known (something, such as something wrong or damaging to oneself) : admit
  • he confessed his guilt
2 a : 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
1 a : 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


play \kən-ˈfe-sə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of confess in a Sentence

  1. He confessed after being questioned for many hours.

  2. He willingly confessed his crime.

  3. I have to confess that I was afraid at first.

  4. I confessed my sins to the priest.

Recent Examples of confess from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

CONFESS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of confess for English Language Learners

  • : 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

CONFESS Defined for Kids


verb con·fess \ kən-ˈfes \

Definition of confess for Students

confessed; confessing
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

Law Dictionary


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
: to make a confession


play \kən-ˈfe-sər\ noun

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