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

Other Words from confess

confessable \ kən-​ˈfe-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce confess (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.
Recent Examples on the Web So the writers were tipping their hat off to that, and trying to find a creative way of how this guy would confess his love for this woman. Ramin Setoodeh, Variety, 10 June 2022 The Netflix series comes to mind as well in the film’s most riveting sequences, which are not action set-pieces but rather long interrogation scenes where Yohan and Marceau try to get one of their many suspects to confess. Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 May 2022 In the end, Sophie and Kevin confess their love for one another and kiss in grand fashion in front of the entire family at Kate and Philip's wedding reception. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, 27 Apr. 2022 Aram the overhears Cooper confess everything to Red — the blackmail, breaking laws, involving Charlene (Valarie Pettiford) and Lew in the mess, and putting Andrew in Witness Protection. Laura Sirikul,, 9 Apr. 2022 Brian Jones, 62, packed two bags of personal belongings and took a bus from South Carolina to Bessemer, Alabama, to confess the crime, Bessemer Police Lt. Audrey Conklin, Fox News, 23 Apr. 2022 My personal solution is to aggressively confess my ignorance. Neil Senturia, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Apr. 2022 Remaining silent is in the suspects’ best interests as a pair, but only if both refuse to confess. Lila Maclellan, Quartz, 17 Apr. 2022 Boys snuggle, hold hands, confess their homosexual inclinations without shame. New York Times, 5 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of confess

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for confess

Middle English confessen "to admit, confess, (of a priest) hear a confession," borrowed from Anglo-French confesser (also continental Old French), derivative of confés "confessed, shriven," going back to Latin confessus, past participle of confiteor, confitērī "to admit (a fact, the truth of a statement or charge), reveal," from con- con- + fateor, fatērī "to accept as true, acknowledge, profess," probably a verbal derivative based on Indo-European *bhh2-to- "spoken" or *bhh2-t- "who speaks," from the verbal base *bheh2- "speak, say," whence also Latin for, fārī "to speak, say" — more at ban entry 1

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

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Last Updated

19 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Confess.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for confess


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


transitive verb
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 confess (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on confess

Nglish: Translation of confess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of confess for Arabic Speakers


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