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


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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 Confessionals are religious rooms often used for people to confess whatever's bothering them without reservation and people think that's what Selena's doing in her music video. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Twitter Thinks the Veil Used in Selena Gomez's New Music Video Is Important to Her Relationship With Justin Bieber," 25 Oct. 2019 According to Tomsheck, more than 30 people during this period, in fact, confessed to having applied for the job at the direction of drug traffickers. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "Criminal misconduct by US border officers has reached a 5-year high," 24 Oct. 2019 The people thus named could be arrested and made to confess to a pact with the devil. National Geographic, "A royal obsession with black magic started Europe's most brutal witch hunts," 16 Oct. 2019 The actor can’t help but wear his heart on his sleeve in his performances, leading to fluttery, heartwarming gestures like hopping onto a plane to confess his love. Marcus Jones,, "Adam Sandler is a serious actor — here’s the proof," 25 Sep. 2019 For days, Sullivan taunted Bonnen and Burrows to confess their wrongdoing. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, "In agreeing to secret huddle, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen veers off state GOP’s script," 11 Aug. 2019 The brothers later confessed to the crime in an interview with Look magazine. Paula Rogo, Essence, "Will Smith and Jay Z To Co-Produce 'Women Of The Movement' Civil Rights Series For ABC," 7 Aug. 2019 The analysis also noted that child abusers would be unlikely to confess to a priest knowing they would be reported to authorities. John Woolfolk, The Mercury News, "Bill to require California priests to report confessions of child sex abuse on hold," 9 July 2019 Abby eventually found the culprit herself, and cleverly got him to confess. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Why Did Pauley Perrette Leave 'NCIS?' All the Details About Her Exit From the Show," 7 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for confess

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for confess

Last Updated

24 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Confess.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 8 December 2019.

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More Definitions for confess


How to pronounce confess (audio)

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
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for confess

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with confess

Spanish Central: Translation of confess

Nglish: Translation of confess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of confess for Arabic Speakers

Comments on confess

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to constrict the range or activity of

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