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Etymology 1[edit]

confession +‎ -al


confessional (comparative more confessional, superlative most confessional)

  1. In the manner or style of a confession.
    • 1991, Manju Jain, A critical reading of the selected poems of T.S. Eliot (page 77)
      The studied reticence of the poems in quatrains is opposed to the more confessional aspects of the monologue.
  2. Officially practicing a particular shared religion, as a state or organization; see confessionalism 1.
    confessional community
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From French confessionnal.


confessional (plural confessionals)

  1. (Roman Catholic church) A small room where confession—the Sacrament of Penance—is performed in private with a priest.
    Synonym: confession booth
    • 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.
  3. (reality television) A filmed interview in which a cast member speaks directly into the camera commenting on the events of the episode.
    • 2004, Ms. Magazine[3], volume 14:
      These characters behave as crassly as they do in large part because producers of shows such as The Bachelor deprive them of all contact with the outside world ( [] ) and ply them with alcohol, then goad them to unleash their petty grievances in filmed "confessionals".
    • 2021, Doreen St. Félix, “"The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" Is Culturally Sensitive Trash”, in The New Yorker[4]:
      We see Brooks seethe in a corner, and, in a cut to a confessional, he exaggerates the scene, saying, “I’m feeling really uncomfortable. Her vagina’s in my face.”