Definition of confess in English:

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Pronunciation: /kənˈfɛs/


[reporting verb]
1Admit that one has committed a crime or done something wrong: [with clause]: he confessed that he had attacked the old man [no object]: he wants to confess to Caroline’s murder [with direct speech]: ‘I damaged your car,’ she confessed
More example sentences
  • Lash a few beers into them though and they become braggers of the highest order and will admit and confess to the crimes they have committed.
  • In developing countries, nearly 60 per cent of the people who confess to committing crimes are innocent, as they do so to escape torture.
  • They were and are still being tortured to confess to crimes they did not commit.
admit, acknowledge, reveal, make known, disclose, divulge, make public, avow, declare, blurt out, profess, own up to, tell all about, bring into the open, bring to light
informal blow the lid off
archaic discover
own up, admit guilt, plead guilty, accept blame/responsibility, be completely honest, tell the truth, tell all, make a clean breast of it, unbosom oneself
informal come clean, fess up, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, get something off one's chest, let on
British informal cough
1.1Acknowledge something reluctantly, typically because one feels slightly ashamed or embarrassed: [with clause]: I must confess that I half believed you [no object]: he confessed to a lifelong passion for food
More example sentences
  • When we had come home tonight, I had reluctantly confessed to my two siblings that I really didn't want to sleep alone in my room.
  • In a survey of 1000 adults, almost half confessed to using texts to avoid ‘conversational niceties’.
  • More than half of people quizzed confessed to avoiding wines whose names they could not pronounce.
acknowledge, admit, concede, grant, allow, own, say, declare, affirm, accept, recognize, be aware of/that, realize, be conscious of/that
1.2 [with object] Declare (one’s religious faith): 150 people confessed faith in Christ
More example sentences
  • The son of a Jewish rabbi who moved to Berlin to serve the Reform Congregation, he himself confessed no religious faith as an adult.
  • With art but little transgressive argument, she makes the purpose (to confess her faith) concrete.
  • Hands are not to be laid on a deacon who has been imprisoned for confessing the faith, says the text; he is a presbyter by that fact.
1.3Declare one’s sins formally to a priest: [with object]: I could not confess all my sins to the priest [no object]: he gave himself up after confessing to a priest
More example sentences
  • She believed that when she confessed her sins to the priest that she was in fact confessing to God who was listening and could forgive her for those sins.
  • The priest unseen, behind the partition asks, ‘Do you have any sins to confess my son?’
  • I'm not a priest do not confess your sins and transgressions to me.
1.4 [with object] (Of a priest) listen to the confession of: St Ambrose would weep bitter tears when confessing a sinner
More example sentences
  • He observes that there are a number of confessions that are particularly curious - one being that the high priest confesses the sins of his family, all of the Kohanim, and the entire Jewish People.
  • Here, bound hand and foot they were thrown into an old wooden house; a priest confessed them, and he solemnly declared that they were innocent of the crime for which they suffered.
  • After a short homily, the priest confessed her in the presence of the villagers and sentenced her to an annual pilgrimage to Chartres.


Late Middle English: from Old French confesser, from Latin confessus, past participle of confiteri 'acknowledge', from con- (expressing intensive force) + fateri 'declare, avow'.

Words that rhyme with confess

acquiesce, address, assess, Bess, bless, bouillabaisse, caress, cess, chess, coalesce, compress, convalesce, cress, deliquesce, digress, dress, duchesse, duress, effervesce, effloresce, evanesce, excess, express, fess, finesse, fluoresce, guess, Hesse, impress, incandesce, intumesce, jess, largesse, less, manageress, mess, ness, noblesse, obsess, oppress, outguess, phosphoresce, politesse, possess, press, priestess, princess, process, profess, progress, prophetess, regress, retrogress, stress, success, suppress, tendresse, top-dress, transgress, tress, tristesse, underdress, vicomtesse, yes

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: con|fess

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