con·​fes·​sion·​al | \kən-ˈfesh-nəl, -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

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Other Words from confessional


confessionalism \kən-​ˈfesh-​nə-​ˌli-​zəm, -​ˈfe-​shə-​nə-​ˌli-​ \ noun
confessionalist \kən-​ˈfesh-​nə-​list, -​ˈfe-​shə-​nə-​list \ noun
confessionally \kən-​ˈfesh-​nə-​lē, -​ˈfe-​shə-​nᵊl-​ \ adverb

Examples of confessional in a Sentence


confessional interviews of famous actors

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Fans can participate by recording their own confessionals on Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Elton John and Husband David Furnish Tell 6LACK About Sending Each Other Weekly Love Letters for 25 Years," 26 Sep. 2018 Pope Francis leaving a confessional in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in 2015. Rob Taylor, WSJ, "Australian Bishops Reject Reporting Sexual Abuse Revealed in Confession," 31 Aug. 2018 Just don't expect any interviews or confessionals from her. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Barely Makes an Appearance in the Queen of the World Documentary," 19 Sep. 2018 Soccer Mommy didn’t put on a fiery show, but Alison’s compelling confessionals, coolly sung over simple yet sticky guitar hooks, were magnetic. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The best of Summerfest Day 11: Cheap Trick, Anderson East, Boz Scaggs, Soccer Mommy & more," 8 July 2018 But his critics viewed his confessional as a cynical attempt to preempt allegations that may have been coming his way. Stephanie Ebbert,, "Junot Díaz case may be a #MeToo turning point," 30 June 2018 At Tribal Council, Wendell gives one of the great burn confessionals of all time. Stephen Fishbach,, "Stephen Fishbach's Survivor Blog: A Thrilling Merge Brings Strategy, Drama & Questionable Rapping," 11 Apr. 2018 The confessionals in this place must be standing room only. Martin Brennan, New York Times, "Review: Sinfulness and Scares Behind ‘The Devil’s Doorway’," 12 July 2018 All that raw confessional candor can take its toll, though. John Adamian,, "Britney Spears, Tory Lanez, Kimya Dawson: Seven Concert Highlights," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But thus far, Rachel's confessional commentary suggests that an adult is a good listener, honest and hard-working, open with his feelings, able to have fun, romantic, and willing to make the first move. Roxane Gay, Marie Claire, "Of All Things, It's 'The Bachelorette' That's Fighting Toxic Masculinity in 2017," 7 June 2017 Unlike Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, who soared to success in the late 1960s with confessional hardship songs from the hills and hollows, Ms. Gentry’s two-steppers revealed little about her. Marc Myers, WSJ, "‘Bobbie Gentry: The Girl From Chickasaw County—The Complete Capitol Masters’ Review: A Country Talent, Fully Recognized," 25 Sep. 2018 Having prepared the ingredients for an epic, Mr. Gessen has fashioned another work of narrow confessional realism that trucks in mundane observations and rueful ironies—something that feels, unfortunately, very American indeed. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: Young and Privileged and Perpetually at Sea," 5 July 2018 In fact, with its confessional tone and commentary on the American Dream in the President George W. Bush era, American Life is easily one of Madonna’s better lyrical outings. Chuck Arnold, Billboard, "Madonna's 'American Life': Revisiting the Divisive Album 15 Years Later," 21 Apr. 2018 Tamblyn has a natural ear for colloquial writing, and the strongest parts of the novel belong to Pear and Jamar, two of Maude’s victims who speak in a direct, confessional style. Steph Cha, USA TODAY, "Amber Tamblyn takes on rape culture (with a daring twist) in debut novel, 'Any Man'," 26 June 2018 The detachment of his vision, at odds with the confessional impulse of poems in the 1990s, brought something new and different to American verse. Wesley Mcnair,, "A life of love, poetry — and the Red Sox," 24 June 2018 And, of course, there was the confessional moment in which Monáe opened up to the world after dropping her latest album, Dirty Computer. Cameron Glover, Allure, "On Janelle Monáe and the Power of Representation for Queer Black Girls," 21 June 2018 This important trilogy, then, through its eloquent polyphony of voices and opinions, arrives at an idea of feminist art in opposition to the confessional mode that has long been in ascendance. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: The Monologues of Friends and Strangers," 1 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of confessional


1727, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1684, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for confessional

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for confessional

The first known use of confessional was in 1684

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More Definitions for confessional



English Language Learners Definition of confessional

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a private place inside a church where a priest hears confessions



English Language Learners Definition of confessional (Entry 2 of 2)

: telling private information about a person's life

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More from Merriam-Webster on confessional

Spanish Central: Translation of confessional

Nglish: Translation of confessional for Spanish Speakers

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

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