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 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

Geillis later confesses to being a witch, calling the smallpox vaccination scar on her arm a devil's mark. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "How Many Time Travelers Do We Know About in Outlander So Far?," 19 Nov. 2018 This year, even women with young kids are not just confessing to motherhood on the trail, but embracing it and breaking new ground along the way. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "For West Virginia Congressional Candidate Talley Sergent, the Politics of Drug Addiction Are Personal," 7 Aug. 2018 After years of denials, Armstrong confessed to doping in January 2013 during a televised interview with talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, "U.S. government seeks more payback in Lance Armstrong case," 3 July 2018 Police say Kyle Tucker, of Hamden, confessed to the slaying last week of his mom, Donna Tucker, the Hartford Courant reports., "Mom Allegedly Murdered by Son in Her Kitchen Before He Burned Body in Backyard Fire Pit for Hours," 12 June 2018 Dean, a former counselor to President Nixon, eventually confessed to having been party to serious crimes by the president and his associates. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "‘I Will Never Roll on Donald Trump,’ Promises Definitely Innocent Adviser Roger Stone," 30 May 2018 Pinkley, Meurer and the juvenile girl all confessed to committing the crime, police said. Jared Gilmour, kansascity, "He was lured into woods and robbed. But a rape confession is what the teens wanted, Missouri cops say | The Kansas City Star," 24 Apr. 2018 Later, Simmons confessed to torturing White by punching her and extinguishing cigarettes on her skin, the complaint said. Jane Ford-stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "One kidnap-murder-torture defendant pleads guilty in death of pregnant West Allis woman," 29 Mar. 2018 Lawyers say the request is unlikely to be granted, at least initially, unless Mr. Ghosn confesses. Peter Landers, WSJ, "Carlos Ghosn’s Jail Time Extended as Prosecutors Lay Out New Suspicions," 11 Dec. 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

20 Jan 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 \
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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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

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).


a complex dispute or argument

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