con·​fes·​sion·​al | \ kən-ˈfesh-nəl How to pronounce confessional (audio) , -ˈfe-shə-nᵊl \

Definition of confessional

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a place where a priest hears confessions
2 : the practice of confessing to a priest



Definition of confessional (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or being a confession especially of faith
2a : intimately autobiographical confessional fiction
b : characterized by unguarded openness or self-revelation We live in a confessional culture, provoked by social media and the internet and the warmth of the human impulse to share and … commiserate.— Megan Garber

Other Words from confessional


confessionalism \ kən-​ˈfesh-​nə-​ˌli-​zəm How to pronounce confessional (audio) , -​ˈfe-​shə-​nə-​ˌli-​ \ noun
confessionalist \ kən-​ˈfesh-​nə-​list How to pronounce confessional (audio) , -​ˈfe-​shə-​nə-​list \ noun
confessionally \ kən-​ˈfesh-​nə-​lē How to pronounce confessional (audio) , -​ˈfe-​shə-​nᵊl-​ \ adverb

Examples of confessional in a Sentence

Adjective confessional interviews of famous actors
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Kardashian had more kind things to say about Davidson during a confessional in the episode. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 3 June 2022 The Pentagon leaders’ testimony this week—which at times bordered on being a confessional—was striking, but may not be enough, Michael O’Hanlon, a military expert at the Brookings Institution, told me. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, 30 Sep. 2021 In a confessional, June contrasts Stroud to her past partners. Kelly Wynne,, 16 June 2022 The ethical will, it must be said, is not meant as a confessional. Tom Teicholz, Forbes, 9 June 2022 In a culture soaked in the confessional, Macdonald could have profited from the sympathy and inevitable publicity that would come from talking about his cancer battle. Geoff Edgers, Washington Post, 29 May 2022 The success of Crawford’s book, Flanagan noted, spawned something of a micro-genre: the nanny confessional. Mary Stachyra Lopez, The Atlantic, 29 Apr. 2022 In a separate confessional, Kim is filmed texting with a big grin on her face. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 13 May 2022 Carisi’s only evidence in a case was found in a church confessional; Benson tries to mend ties with an old friend. Hau Chu, Washington Post, 12 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective And a bit on things people love became the basis for cast members’ true confessional raps that ranged from amusing to melancholy. San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 June 2022 Contributions from John’s children and his wife Patty Smyth provide a level of intimacy that takes the film beyond a sports biopic and into the realms of something deeply confessional. Brent Lang, Variety, 16 June 2022 Taylor Swift’s catalog and perhaps of Beyoncé’s last two albums—plus the influence of social media—led the way for stars to become more confessional, more knowable. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 15 June 2022 Between the album’s many attempts at confessional music is a sprinkling of the indistinct pop that Post has been refining over the years, clearly meant to keep things from getting too morose. Sheldon Pearce, The New Yorker, 9 June 2022 Various factions come together to form a coalition government, dividing key portfolios along sectarian and confessional lines. Nazih Osseiran, WSJ, 17 May 2022 Eilish’s latest album is a confessional and introspective Bildungsroman. Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2022 On Instagram, this means barraging people’s feeds with seemingly indiscriminate content, often accompanied by humorous or confessional commentary. New York Times, 9 Aug. 2021 For fans of powerful, confessional tracks, this slow ballad from gay singer Sam Smith follows a man coming out and professing that sexuality should be accepted, period. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, 7 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'confessional.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of confessional


1727, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1684, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for confessional


probably borrowed from French confessional (short for chaire confessionale, siège confessional, literally, "confessional seat"), noun derivative of confessional, adjective, "constituting or used for a confession," borrowed from Medieval Latin confessiōnālis, from Latin confessiōn-, confessiō confession + -ālis -al entry 1


borrowed from Medieval Latin confessiōnālis "constituting or used for a confession" — more at confessional entry 1

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The first known use of confessional was in 1684

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Last Updated

4 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Confessional.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on confessional

Nglish: Translation of confessional for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of confessional for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about confessional


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