Definition of confession in US English:



  • 1A formal statement admitting that one is guilty of a crime.

    ‘he signed a confession to the murders’
    • ‘However, that paragraph concludes with a statement that a confession will not be voluntary if the questioning is calculated to overcome the freedom of will of the suspect.’
    • ‘And according to the Bulgarian law, a confession of a crime is only valid if made in the court.’
    • ‘As they ran the risk of losing the advantages they had been given if they went back on their previous statements or retracted their confessions, their statements were open to question.’
    • ‘The court continued to admit the confessions of the three as evidence, in spite the fact that they allegedly were extracted using torture.’
    • ‘The Defendant is pleading a confession and avoidance to the Plaintiff's claim.’
    • ‘Had the defence done so, we are by no means convinced that the judge would have admitted the confession.’
    • ‘Judges rarely render even highly suspicious confessions inadmissible, and juries often convict confessors, even in the absence of physical evidence.’
    • ‘The facts contained in the alleged confession were admitted to be in the public domain.’
    • ‘Your point is that if the confessions were held by this Court to have been wrongly admitted, there would be too little evidence to justify a further trial.’
    • ‘As regards the accused, it is a matter of court record that the confessions that prosecutors continue to seek to use against them were allegedly extracted using torture.’
    • ‘The family signed confessions admitting that the baby on the beach was Joanne's.’
    • ‘These accused have also admitted in their confession that top officials of the food and civil supplies department including the minister were involved in the racket.’
    • ‘In what was said to be a signed confession he admitted carrying the rucksack containing explosives but insisted he never intended to kill anyone.’
    • ‘And, as the Magistrate said, if the confession is admitted, then, in the absence of any further evidence, a ‘case to answer’ has been made out.’
    • ‘They pleaded not guilty and revoked their confessions.’
    • ‘In his oral submissions, though not we think in his grounds of appeal, he took a point on the judge's decision to admit the confession, without holding a voire dire to establish, as he put it, its reliability.’
    • ‘The prosecution admitted that confessions had been abstracted by threatened execution, false witnesses, and mock trials, but all the defendants were found guilty.’
    • ‘Secondly, if evidence were given by a defendant challenging the confession it would likely result in an adjournment to allow the government to call rebutting evidence.’
    • ‘The Crown in that case submitted that the confessions were rightly admitted and that the convictions were safe and satisfactory.’
    • ‘Finally, he agreed to sign a confession admitting he had attacked Wendy.’
    admission, owning up, acceptance of blame, acceptance of responsibility, acknowledgement, profession, revelation, disclosure, divulgence, exposure, avowal, unbosoming
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    1. 1.1 An admission or acknowledgment that one has done something that one is ashamed or embarrassed about.
      ‘by his own confession, he had strayed perilously close to alcoholism’
      • ‘And once you've shared a secret, a confession, or something really embarrassing - then you are closer than before.’
      • ‘‘I got someone else I'm kinda into,’ he admitted, looking altogether embarrassed at his double confession.’
      • ‘This is a little embarrassing, but I have a confession to make.’
      • ‘It is such that an unfortunate circumstance or careless remark can shake feelings of love as can an embarrassing confession, comprised of three little words, reinforce it.’
      • ‘I thought it would be interesting to make a room that puts the viewer in the position of listening to these confessions, these personal and often quite embarrassing experiences that people have had.’
      • ‘This week has been a series of revelations and confessions for me, which is unusual.’
      • ‘Yes, you heard right… there is going to be a love confession but at the moment I don't have enough courage.’
      • ‘I'm just smiling at his momentary confession of weakness as he carries me over to our booth.’
      • ‘A confession would have been far too embarrassing.’
      • ‘Postponing the inevitable anger, disappointment, and embarrassment my parents would surely feel upon my confession seemed like a good idea.’
      • ‘What if this is all for naught, my confession, my desire, my love, all for nothing?’
      • ‘The actors took a short while to fully get into the difficult dialogue, but by the end, the confessions, revelations and delusions were brilliantly spelt out.’
      • ‘Phillip cracked a small smile in a sort of embarrassed confession.’
      • ‘Lest the Gods of Indie strike me down, I have a confession to make that could well ruin the few hip credentials in my possession.’
      • ‘Her cheeks reddened at the embarrassing confession and she paused for a few moments.’
      • ‘‘Next lesson,’ Marc continued, suddenly cheerful despite his emotional confession just mere moments ago.’
      • ‘Amidst the chaos, the heartfelt moments of confession and intimacy anchor the characters and remind us that they're human too, in spite of the extremity of their divorce from the consensus.’
      • ‘As a teenager he was really into wrestling (an embarrassing confession!) and a friend at work has lent him a wrestling game for the week.’
      • ‘I looked from one intently interested catlike face to another, suddenly embarrassed about how the confession would sound to them.’
      • ‘The only eyebrow-raising moments come from confessions of infantile sexuality that would have had Freud scrambling for pad and pen.’
      admission, owning up, acceptance of blame, acceptance of responsibility, acknowledgement, profession, revelation, disclosure, divulgence, exposure, avowal, unbosoming
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    2. 1.2 A formal admission of one's sins with repentance and desire of absolution, especially privately to a priest as a religious duty.
      ‘she still had not been to confession’
      • ‘This process involves confession to a priest, acts of contrition, receiving absolution, and performing works of satisfaction.’
      • ‘Catholics no longer go to confession as a regular practice, and many Protestant services have eliminated or downplayed the confession of sins.’
      • ‘But the priest patiently heard my confession, gave me absolution, and then zipped out to continue his busy day.’
      • ‘Growing numbers went infrequently to confession, or even gave up on the sacrament entirely.’
      • ‘The priest would hear confessions and give absolution for sins.’
      • ‘Later, there is a long scene where a priest sees through him and brings him to confession.’
      • ‘I went to the priest and said I want to go to confession.’
      • ‘He asked if we could go to confession and get help from a Priest with us being Pagan.’
      • ‘And so you had all these confessions going on, kids were going to confession all over the place.’
      • ‘The bishops cannot validly ordain priests and the priests they do ordain cannot validly say Mass, give the sacrament, hear confessions, give absolution or perform any other rite of the church.’
      • ‘So the priest hears confessions and restores the penitent, not only to fellowship with God, but to fellowship with the injured Body, by the grace of God.’
      • ‘There was the Good Friday service, a trip to confession on Holy Saturday and, of course, Mass on Easter Sunday.’
      • ‘Shortly after mid-century, however, the number of Catholics going to confession regularly - or indeed at all - plummeted.’
      • ‘And it is more than fair to the Church, as it protects the confessional unless the confession is about third parties.’
      • ‘What priest hearing confessions and offering the comfort of God's forgiveness is exempt from the call to Christlike humility?’
      • ‘In that group, more than 26 percent said they never went to confession, while 35 percent reported they went only once a year.’
      • ‘There's a simple remedy: repent and go to confession.’
      • ‘From the first day when I became a priest, when folk came to confession they knew where they stood - it is go and sin no more.’
      • ‘And why do Catholics feel the need to go to confession?’
      • ‘This isn't to knock all priests who hear confessions - many are compassionate and have a gift of knowing just what to say.’
      revelation, surprising fact, divulgence, declaration, announcement, news, report
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    3. 1.3confessionshumorous Intimate revelations about a person's private life or occupation, especially as presented in a sensationalized form in a book, newspaper, or movie.
      ‘confessions of a driving instructor’
      • ‘And that's probably enough albums, links, and weird personal confessions to make a point of some sort, so I'll stop there.’
      • ‘He has no time for stuttering confessions or intimate revelations.’
      • ‘The Bradford pop idol had previously denied a liaison with the topless model, despite her own confessions to tabloid newspapers.’
      • ‘His book of confessions pointedly describes how that course brought him personal abuse from the two sides: radical antiwar protesters, and superhawks.’
      • ‘What follows is a series of revelations and confessions about emotional and sexual escapades - past and present, gay and straight, silly and profound.’
      • ‘The confessions of a quantum mechanic may not strike us as potentially exciting, but his private life was as complex as his theoretical one.’
  • 2A statement setting out essential religious doctrine.

    • ‘He always calls for a public confession of faith.’
    • ‘Baptists rallied around the confession and for the moment schism was avoided, but peace for Southern Baptists was ephemeral.’
    • ‘I am never certain what someone who professes to give us advice on everything from how to get along with each other to how to teach the family dog ‘that Christian obedience that Fido needs’ has to do with the historic confessions of faith.’
    • ‘He died while his gardeners, two servants, three security guards and four chauffeurs were still chanting part of the confession of faith after the evening prayer in the larger prayer house close to the swimming pool in his mansion.’
    • ‘Paul writes to the Corinthian church and reminds them of the gospel on which they took their stand - his formulation is believed to have been an early confession of faith.’
    • ‘One hears stories of Christians who, in great anguish of heart, hover over the deathbeds of unbelieving dying relatives, hoping to hear, if only as a last gasp, a confession of faith.’
    • ‘Spoken words, even a mouthed confession of faith, mean nothing without the behavior to back it up.’
    • ‘Baptism is both a confession of faith and the sign and seal of the covenant of grace into which the Lord has brought us.’
    • ‘The Particular Baptists issued their first confession of faith in London in 1644, two years after the civil war had begun and two years before the Westminster Confession was adopted.’
    • ‘Finally, one must ask what specific ideas about God and man were accepted by Augustine in consequence of his baptism and confession of faith.’
    • ‘For some, the focus of evangelism efforts is a confession of faith - agreement with or conversion to a specific theological statement.’
    • ‘This means that the bases for church reunion have to be the confessions of faith and the communal structures of the once undivided church of East and West.’
    • ‘Surely, the closest thing during these years to a Baptist confession of faith was the ‘Statement of Principles.’’
    • ‘We put on our armour by a simple confession of faith: ‘Lord Jesus, You are my armour.’’
    • ‘He likens himself to the Puritan divines he studied in graduate school, whose religious scruples were part of their confession of faith.’
    • ‘This report, while not claiming the need for a new confession of faith, affirmed the 1963 statement and upheld the Peace Committee report, including the Glorieta Statement.’
    • ‘Among the Southern Baptists they turned to the practice of writing the denominational confession of faith.’
    • ‘This is our confession of faith, and the language of worship remains our only way to speak this mystery.’
    • ‘As is to be expected in a work of this sort, a good part of Credo is devoted to the classical creeds of the early Church and to the theological developments that supported the first confessions of faith.’
    • ‘Baptists from the first have issued their confessions of faith.’
    declaration, affirmation, statement, announcement, proclamation, assertion, avowal, vow, claim, allegation, protestation
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    1. 2.1 The religious body or Church sharing a confession of faith.
      • ‘We reject and condemn these errors and all others that contradict and contravene the above doctrine as being contrary to the pure Word of God, the writings of the holy prophets and apostles, and our Christian Creed and Confession.’
      • ‘Some of the strongest defenders of the Confession's doctrine were Dutch elders.’
      • ‘He held this view while confessing allegiance to the Belgic Confession, but like the tendency of current revisions, it led to losable election, losable regeneration, and losable justification.’
      • ‘Today, the Reformed Evangelische Kirche, while professing to adhere to The Helvetic Confession, has departed completely from the historic Reformed faith and biblical ethics.’
    2. 2.2 A statement of one's principles.
      ‘his words are a political confession of faith’
      • ‘On the contrary, he charged that his passion lay entirely in his political confession of faith, and he gave several illustrations of his point.’
      • ‘It does come up from time to time, but from the lectures I've attended, when it does come up, it's mentioned in passing as almost a confession of faith.’
      • ‘It is in fact his political confession of faith.’
      • ‘When I was here last autumn I made… a short confession of my political faith, or perhaps I should better say, want of faith.’
      • ‘To his political confession of faith no objections appear to have been made, but the odor of his theological heterodoxy was too strong.’


Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin confessio(n-), from confiteri ‘acknowledge’ (see confess).