\ ˈfes How to pronounce fess (audio) \
fessed; fessing; fesses

Definition of fess

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to own up : confess usually used with up


\ ˈfes How to pronounce fess (audio) \
variants: or less commonly fesse

Definition of fess (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a broad horizontal bar across the middle of a heraldic field
2 : the center point of an armorial escutcheon

Examples of fess in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Additionally, the survey found that nearly 50 percent of parents would opt their child out of receiving homework in at least one subject area, while one in three fessed up to having finished their child’s homework for them. NBC News, "An after-school routine to help kids and parents beat homework stress," 5 Sep. 2019 And a black student at the university fessed up to sending racist threats and planting a noose. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Hate Crime Hoaxes Are More Common Than You Think," 25 June 2019 The sisters all agree that this tracks, but the real issue arises when Woods doesn't immediately fess up to having an inappropriate interaction with him. Morgan Baila, refinery29.com, "Keeping Up With The Kardashians' Finale Part One Shows The Jordyn-Tristan Scandal In Real Time," 25 June 2019 But now, less than a decade into this experiment, the industry is ‘fessing up. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Meet the Humble CEO Who Wants to Build the Biggest Cybersecurity Company Ever—Data Sheet," 6 Aug. 2019 Scott said no one asked him how the patient died and acknowledged the immunity deal allowed him to finally fess up. Brian Melley, The Denver Post, "Witness at Navy SEAL trial says he killed victim out of mercy," 20 June 2019 Scott said no one asked him how the patient died and acknowledged the immunity deal allowed him to finally fess up. Washington Post, "Witness at Navy SEAL trial: I killed victim out of mercy," 20 June 2019 Scott said no one asked him how the patient died and cited the immunity deal that allowed him to finally fess up. Author: Julie Watson, Brian Melley, Anchorage Daily News, "Witness at Navy SEAL’s trial admits killing wounded teenage ISIS prisoner," 20 June 2019 If that’s the case, the officials have never 'fessed up. Tom Metcalfe, NBC News, "Call to raid Area 51 draws hordes of alien hunters on Facebook," 12 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Not until after the game -- LSU beat South Carolina 6-4 to stay alive in the SEC Tournament -- did Peterson fess up. Christopher Dabe, NOLA.com, "Todd Peterson's high school coach tells truth about LSU pitcher's hitting ability," 25 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fess.' 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 fess


1840, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fess


short for confess


Middle English fesse, from Anglo-French faisse band, from Latin fascia — more at fascia

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Time Traveler for fess

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The first known use of fess was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Fess.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fessing. Accessed 7 December 2019.

More from Merriam-Webster on fess

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fess

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fess

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