Definition of confess in English:



  • 1reporting verb Admit 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’
    • ‘In developing countries, nearly 60 per cent of the people who confess to committing crimes are innocent, as they do so to escape torture.’
    • ‘In fact, if you're about to confess to an affair and you haven't given your wife flowers in the last ten years, a lavish bouquet will probably get the message across without you having to do any talking at all.’
    • ‘In other cases people come forward and confess to their crimes.’
    • ‘I know that if I admit or confess to the offence that I may be arrested and charged.’
    • ‘They were and are still being tortured to confess to crimes they did not commit.’
    • ‘I confess to some guilt at linking to them - because I'm not convinced that it's a great idea for graduate students to be blogging.’
    • ‘He had confessed to buying nearly a ton of chemical fertiliser for the bomb and to supplying the mini-van in which it exploded but he denied planning the attack and his lawyers will appeal against the sentence.’
    • ‘When is the last time we heard of a trial being interrupted by someone who steps forward to confess to the crime because he cannot bear to subject an innocent man to further ordeal?’
    • ‘Many people believe that it is impossible for anyone, except those who are insane or foolish, to confess to a crime that might bring capital punishment if he or she did not commit it.’
    • ‘Never let it be said that the US judicial system is devoid of any benevolence, particularly when guilty parties hold up their hand and confess to their crime.’
    • ‘The law would allow paramilitaries to give themselves up and confess to their human rights and drug trafficking crimes.’
    • ‘A lot of those guys freed from Death Row after ten years could have gotten lighter sentences if they'd confessed early-on to the crime they didn't commit.’
    • ‘At thirteen, Oakland police officers kept him in an interrogation room for hours until he confessed to a robbery he contends, five years later, that he didn't commit.’
    • ‘A mystery caller whose father confessed to a high-profile killing on his deathbed is being asked to contact police so that a murder, which has gone unsolved for almost half a century, can at last be closed.’
    • ‘Why would authorities force a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old to confess to a murder?’
    • ‘He could take any criminal and actually make them confess to their crime.’
    • ‘Keep in mind that this is a man who confessed to committing war crimes while in Vietnam.’
    • ‘The children all eventually confess to their crimes and profess profound remorse for their actions.’
    • ‘The play begins with the monologue of Scott, a 19-year-old soldier who confesses the crimes he commits during the war.’
    • ‘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.’
    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
    own up, admit guilt, plead guilty, accept blame, accept responsibility, be completely honest, tell the truth, tell all, make a clean breast of it, unbosom oneself
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    1. 1.1 Acknowledge 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’
      • ‘Last night at the pub with a friend I realised just how easily amused I really am when I confessed to him how rubber bands flying through the office still make me laugh.’
      • ‘The truth of the matter - and I have to confess to bias here, since it's my hometown - is that New Haven has never deserved its poor reputation.’
      • ‘You know that part where you describe being racked with guilt, where you confess to feeling absolutely torn and losing the stability you felt last week?’
      • ‘Despite this academic success, I confess to some skepticism regarding the adoption of their proposals at a state, much less federal, level.’
      • ‘In a survey of 1000 adults, almost half confessed to using texts to avoid ‘conversational niceties’.’
      • ‘He confessed to being ‘very nervous’ before the show began and added it was ‘too early to say’ whether he would consider going back to radio full time.’
      • ‘I confess to becoming just a little misty-eyed.’
      • ‘Later he confessed to having felt ‘terrified’ by what happened to him at the start of Celtic's 6-2 victory 18 months ago.’
      • ‘I cannot report that he is well-focused towards streamlining his electronic folders because he confessed to being unable to complete the Concentration Test for men.’
      • ‘I'd go to him and make him confess to being something no self-respecting photographer should ever call himself: an artist.’
      • ‘The patrician, who has confessed to wearing ‘Levi jeans and jumpers’ at weekends, has faced a torrid time at the company since assuming the role nine months ago.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I confessed to David that my wife and I had a similar miscarriage, as do so many professional couples who wait until their thirties to have kids.’
      • ‘At least half of the women who confessed to having been sexually active before the age of 16 replied, ‘I would have made sure I enjoyed myself more’.’
      • ‘I thought that they had a point, though I confess to being just about their readiest apologist, apart from the 30,000 who make their way to the Valley every other weekend.’
      • ‘More than half of people quizzed confessed to avoiding wines whose names they could not pronounce.’
      • ‘I have done everything to see this as humorous, an expression of some deep insecurity, you name it, but a little while ago, I confessed to a small infatuation with someone at work.’
      • ‘‘No men were ever so deceived as we at Cincinnati,’ he confessed to his former associate on the reaper case.’
      • ‘The dead woman was later found to be linked to a renowned Hong Kong actress, who confessed to not having rung her mother up for quite a long time - she admitted to telephoning her every two or three months.’
      • ‘I suppose this is possible, but I confess to puzzlement.’
      acknowledge, admit, concede, grant, allow, own, say, declare, affirm, accept, recognize, be aware of, be aware that, realize, be conscious of, be conscious that
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2with object Declare (one's religious faith)
      ‘150 people confessed faith in Christ’
      • ‘The scripture is very clear that those who are the redeemed are those who come to now Jesus Christ personally as savior and Lord and confess him as such.’
      • ‘Our part is to believe and confess Him as our Saviour and Lord.’
      • ‘Today we are privileged to welcome into the full life of the church's fellowship those who wish to confess their faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.’
      • ‘With art but little transgressive argument, she makes the purpose (to confess her faith) concrete.’
      • ‘We anticipate the time when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess you as the Lord of creation.’
      • ‘We are to be steadfast in our faith, confessing our faith before the authorities, if need be, as Jesus made the ‘good confession’ before Pontius Pilate.’
      • ‘However, the very thought of confessing my Christian faith to my parents gave me nightmares and many restless nights.’
      • ‘As the people came forward in their thousands to confess their faith, however, I was aware only of calm meditation on the part of his crew and detected no expressions of triumph.’
      • ‘Faithfully confessing Christ is the church's task, and never more so than when its confession is co-opted by militarism and nationalism.’
      • ‘Our salvation begins with God's choice to save us, it continues via the inner work of the Spirit in our hearts, and it comes to fruition when we confess faith in His truth.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘While we may confess one faith, the object of our true devotion reveals itself in our everyday actions and in the things to which we devote most of our time and energy.’
      • ‘The distinction between dogma, doctrine, and opinion holds good both in confessing the Christian faith in general and a Baptist identity in particular.’
      • ‘He also showed His crucifixion scars on his hands and side to Thomas, this made him fall down and confess him as his own Lord and God.’
      • ‘A true Christian is a person who trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved from the guilt and the power of sin and is surrendered to Him as his Lord and Master - and confesses Him as such before the world.’
      • ‘The son of a Jewish rabbi who moved to Berlin to serve the Reform Congregation, he himself confessed no religious faith as an adult.’
      • ‘Rather, John is encouraging his readers to confess their faith in Christ openly so that our Lord will commit Himself to them.’
      • ‘The Orthodox believe that all bishops confess the true faith and are the successors of Peter and the other apostles.’
      • ‘In worship the people of God encounter Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament, confessing their faith, and are taken up into the missio Dei as they are propelled into the world as agents of the gospel's mission.’
      • ‘This week's story of the man born blind tells us how vital it is that we come to ‘see’ Jesus in a whole new light and confess him as Lord.’
    3. 1.3 Declare 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Every day we live in the power of our baptism and in its dying-and-rising rhythm by confessing our sins and hearing the words of forgiveness.’
      • ‘The priest unseen, behind the partition asks, ‘Do you have any sins to confess my son?’’
      • ‘What is the responsibility of a priest who hears someone confess of a crime?’
      • ‘I'm not a priest do not confess your sins and transgressions to me.’
    4. 1.4with object (of a priest) listen to the confession of.
      ‘St Ambrose would weep bitter tears when confessing a sinner’
      • ‘After a short homily, the priest confessed her in the presence of the villagers and sentenced her to an annual pilgrimage to Chartres.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The priest confessed her wholly, and detained her long, because he was so sorry for her being put to death.’
      • ‘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.’


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