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


admit, cop (to) [slang], fess (up), own (up)

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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

Samuel Little, 78, is currently serving a life sentence in California State Prison confessed for killing five Ohio women, according to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, "Serial killer Samuel Little, who has confessed to killing 93 women, indicted in Ohio cold cases," 3 June 2019 Plus, there was also that time when Jaime confessed how the whole Mad King murder went down to Brienne. Glamour, "This Season 1 Scene With Jaime and Jon Might Predict the Game of Thrones Finale," 14 May 2019 After police said a member killed a left-wing rap artist in front of witnesses and confessed, Greek authorities acted, prosecuting the party as a criminal organization. Nektaria Stamouli, WSJ, "Greece’s Slow Justice Lets Fascist Party Prosper," 1 May 2019 The landlord confessed that her firm is understaffed and overwhelmed. Steven P. Dinkin,, "The brazen landlord and the outrageous bill," 29 Apr. 2018 The company’s chief Marcelo Odebrecht confessed to investing millions of dollars in Dilma Rousseff’s 2014 presidential campaign in an alleged exchange of benefiting Odebrecht’s company Braskem. Robert Valencia, Newsweek, "Peruvian President Kuczynski Resigns After Videos Show His Allies Buy Votes to Avoid Impeachment," 21 Mar. 2018 They were detained on Monday and have confessed to spying... David Gauthier-villars, WSJ, "Turkey Detains Two Men Suspected of Spying for U.A.E.," 19 Apr. 2019 Vidra has since confessed to the charges against him, police told WTAE. Josh Magness, kansascity, "Firefighter raped a teen, threatened to take 'all of the money' if she told, cops say," 2 July 2018 About 42% of those surveyed confessed to paying a credit card bill late. Ben Tobin, USA TODAY, "43M Americans mistakenly think carrying credit card balance improves credit scores: Survey," 2 July 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

9 Jun 2019

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 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


transitive verb
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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More from Merriam-Webster on confess

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with confess

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for confess

Spanish Central: Translation of confess

Nglish: Translation of confess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of confess for Arabic Speakers

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