Definition of confessional in English:


Syllabification: con·fes·sion·al
Pronunciation: /kənˈfeSHənl


  • 1An enclosed stall in a church divided by a screen or curtain in which a priest sits to hear people confess their sins.
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    • And there were a good many other sequences planned for the picture which are not there, including her visit to a confessional in the Catholic church - without words, nothing was ever said.
    • ‘I came here for meaning,’ Gavin says to the priest in the confessional.
    • The priest will then assign a ‘penance’, which usually consists of a few prayers to say in the church after leaving the confessional.
  • 2An admission or acknowledgment that one has done something that one is ashamed or embarrassed about; a confession.
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    • His lyrics read like tabloid confessionals, offering glimpses into a celebrity's life.
    • In these days of tabloid confessionals and celebrity magazines, the sound of rock stars complaining about their lot has become a familiar one.
    • It seals its fate with private camera confessionals, team challenges, and the mandatory hot tub (why must there always be a hot tub?).


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  • 1(Especially of speech or writing) in which a person reveals or admits to private thoughts or past incidents, especially ones that cause shame or embarrassment: the autobiography is remarkably confessional his confessional outpourings
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    • Anyhow, it's not a surprise that so many of the examples of this kind are in confessional writing about relationship problems.
    • By confusing the public and the private, today's confessional culture undermines the idea of the ‘public interest’.
    • And the evidence of that confession, or confessional statement, was admitted without objection?
  • 1.1Of or relating to religious confession: the priest leaned forward in his best confessional manner
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    • With great scholarly skill, he shows how centuries-old Orthodox religious philosophy and rituals resembled the penitent, confessional modes employed in the Soviet era.
    • Usually once the ‘penitent’, that is, the person going to confession, closes the confessional door, he or she kneels down on a kneeler, or in the case of someone who is elderly or has another reason for doing so, he or she sits down.
    • But I did not know until later that our Baptist forefathers had found that wonderful document to be a helpful guide in formulating our early confessional statements.
  • 2Of or relating to confessions of faith or doctrinal systems: the confessional approach to religious education
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    • When theological professors and pastors abandon the biblical and confessional doctrine of justification, they sacrifice the gospel and the souls of men.
    • He was an unashamed confessional Calvinist in an age of doctrinal indifferentism.
    • Christian doctrine identifies the rules by which Christians use confessional language to define the social world that they indwell.


late Middle English (as an adjective): the adjective from confession + -al; the noun via French from Italian confessionale, from medieval Latin, neuter of confessionalis, from Latin confessio(n-), from confiteri 'acknowledge' (see confess).

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