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From Middle English confessen, from Anglo-Norman confesser, from Old French confesser, from 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). Doublet of confiteor.


  • IPA(key): /kənˈfɛs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛs


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

  1. (intransitive, transitive) 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.
  2. (transitive) To acknowledge faith in; to profess belief in.
  3. (religion) To unburden (oneself) of sins to God or a priest, in order to receive absolution.
  4. (religion) To hear or receive such a confession of sins from.
    • 1523–1525, John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners (translator), Froissart's Chronicles
      He [] heard mass, and the prince, his son, with him, and the most part of his company were confessed.
    • 1867, W. K. Kelly, The Decameron: or ten day's entertainment of Boccaccio. A revised translation[1]:
      A jealous man confesses his wife under a priest's habit, who tells him that she is visited every night by a friar; []
  5. (transitive) To disclose or reveal.

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