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Etymology 1[edit]

confession +‎ -al


confessional (not comparable)

  1. In the manner or style of a confession.
  2. Officially practicing a particular religion, as a state or organization. See confessionalism 1.

Etymology 2[edit]

From French confessionnal.


confessional (plural confessionals)

  1. (Roman Catholic church) A small room where confession—the sacrament of reconciliation—is performed by a priest.
    • ca. 1909, Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth, Letter XI:
      The confessional's chief amusement has been seduction–in all the ages of the Church.
    • 1956, Delano Ames, chapter 13, in Crime out of Mind[1]:
      In one of the aisles there was an elaborately carved confessional box and I recognised the village priest in his heavy mountain boots and black cassock as he entered it and drew the dark velvet curtains behind him.
  2. A confession
    • 2015 April 15, Jonathan Martin, “For a Clinton, It’s Not Hard to Be Humble in an Effort to Regain Power”, in The New York Times[2]:
      When a 35-year-old Bill Clinton, famously the nation’s youngest former governor, set out in 1982 to reclaim the job he had lost two years earlier, he began with a remarkable televised confessional. “My daddy never had to whip me twice for the same thing,” Mr. Clinton told Arkansans in a campaign commercial, acknowledging voters’ anger over his having raised a hated vehicle fee and vowing to listen better if they gave him another chance as governor.

Related terms[edit]