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).
- To admit to the truth, particularly in the context of sins or crimes committed.
- I confess to spray-painting all over that mural!
- I confess that I am a sinner.
- c. 1603–1604, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene ii]:
- I never gave it him. Send for him hither, / And let him confess a truth.
- 1705 (revised 1718), Joseph Addison, Remarks on Several Parts of Italy
- I must confess I was most pleased with a beautiful prospect that none of them have mentioned.
- To acknowledge faith in; to profess belief in.
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981, Matthew 10:32:
- Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess, also, before my Father which is in heaven.
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981, Acts 23:8:
- For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.
- (religion) To unburden (oneself) of sins to God or a priest, in order to receive absolution.
- 1710 September 18, Joseph Addison; Richard Steele, “THURSDAY, September 7, 1710 [Julian calendar]”, in The Spectator, number 1647; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, […], volume II, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, OCLC 191120697:
- Our beautiful votary took an opportunity of confessing herself to this celebrated father.
- (religion) To hear or receive such a confession of sins from.
- To disclose or reveal.