Last modified on 22 October 2014, at 13:27




From Middle English confessen, from Anglo-Norman confesser, from Old French confesser, from Medieval Latin confessō (I confess), a derivative of Latin confessus (Old French confés), past participle of cōnfiteor (I confess, I admit) from con- + fateor (I admit). Displaced Middle English andetten (to confess, admit) (from Old English andettan).



confess (third-person singular simple present confesses, present participle confessing, simple past and past participle confessed)

  1. ​ To admit to the truth, particularly in the context of sins or crimes committed.
    People confess to anything under torture.
    • Shakespeare
      I never gave it him. Send for him hither, / And let him confess a truth.
    • Milton
      And there confess / Humbly our faults, and pardon beg.
    • Addison
      I must confess I was most pleased with a beautiful prospect that none of them have mentioned.
  2. To acknowledge faith in; to profess belief in.
    • Bible, Matthew x. 32
      Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess, also, before my Father which is in heaven.
    • Bible, Acts xxiii. 8
      For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.
  3. (religion) To unburden (oneself) of sins to a priest, in order to receive absolution.
    • Addison
      Our beautiful votary took an opportunity of confessing herself to this celebrated father.
  4. (religion) To hear or receive such a confession of sins from.
    • Ld. Berners
      He [] heard mass, and the prince, his son, with him, and the most part of his company were confessed.
  5. ​ To disclose or reveal.
    • Alexander Pope
      Tall thriving trees confessed the fruitful mould.

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