Definition of confessor in US English:



  • 1A priest who hears confessions and gives absolution and spiritual counsel.

    ‘she sent for her confessor because she was in mortal sin’
    • ‘We warned all the venues of the need to have copious numbers of confessors and they responded magnificently - though many priests expressed amazement at the numbers attending the sacrament.’
    • ‘The singing of psalms, provision of a confessor, entreaties for repentance, and the Eucharistic offering followed age-old traditions for those close to death, natural and otherwise.’
    • ‘This is indeed the duty of the priest's confessor or spiritual director, the representative of the tribunal of mercy.’
    • ‘On his deathbed, his confessors had no trouble getting him to pay handsome damages to the church of Notre Dame at Mantes, which he had burned down with its town just before he was seized with his final illness.’
    • ‘Once inside the box, face to face with my confessor I took off my dark glasses and said ‘Father, it's over twenty years since my last confession.’’
    • ‘And it is to turn the form of confession into one in which the penitent interrogates the confessor.’
    • ‘Since not every priest is a good confessor, one of the book's most interesting chapters deals with finding the right guide.’
    • ‘I can recall talk among my workmates about confession and confessors at a time when most of us were courting.’
    • ‘When she was well again, her confessor directed her to the Society of Mary Reparatrix whose members were dedicated to Eucharistic adoration in union with Mary at the foot of the Cross, making reparation for the sins of the world.’
    • ‘Emma also returned to England and continued living in Winchester, where she allegedly had an affair with her confessor - a bishop, no less.’
    • ‘But vernacular confessors' manuals were published almost as often as these weightier Latin tomes.’
    • ‘He speaks from many years of experience as a priest, confessor, and moral theologian.’
    • ‘Then, in the following days, the various officers of the conclave, the conclavists, confessors, and physicians, servants of various kinds, are examined or appointed by a special commission.’
    • ‘The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.’
    • ‘The Sacrament of reconciliation will be available in both Nurney and Kildangan churches on Sunday next Palm Sunday from 3-5 pm when visiting confessors will be present.’
    • ‘That's why it's a great protection to have a good confessor or spiritual director with whom you can be open and honest.’
    • ‘As early as 1532, in a famous memorial meant for Clement VII, he called for the repression of the friars, priests, preachers, confessors, and books he saw as responsible for the spread of heretical ideas among the Italian populace.’
    • ‘But he uses the legal term of judge to describe the role of priest confessor, and that terminology is far from my mind when I give absolution.’
    • ‘His confessors told him that he would die in a state of sin because of his treatment of his ex-Queen, who was now living in Constantinople.’
    • ‘Ultimately, as a social phenomenon, it was about the relationship between a confessor and his penitents.’
    1. 1.1 A person to whom another confides personal problems.
      • ‘‘And nothing good will come from covering it up,’ the president leaned forward and looked his confessor in the eye.’
      • ‘Confession in the classroom takes many forms; therefore, the identities of the confessor and confessee are not always the same.’
      • ‘She was hoping that her being there; like a confessor or guardian angel, someone who was not judging and not changing, would help them in someway.’
      • ‘Not only do you have to be a teacher, you must be a parent figure, confessor, psychologist, counselor, public relations expert, and a role model for the community.’
      • ‘The mendicants enjoyed rapid and phenomenal success, attracting support not only from the crown and aristocracy, who frequently employed them as confessors and advisers, but also from urban patrons.’
      • ‘John was her sometime confessor and perhaps the only person, male or female, before whom Teresa stood in awe.’
      • ‘He had never been good at talking of his emotions, conceding psychological advantage to his confessor.’
      • ‘How do we understand, not what is said between the confessor and confessant, but the dynamic that is produced between them?’
      • ‘It was still Sam, his confidant, his confessor, his penitent, his port in the storm and most beloved brother.’
      • ‘Standing on the platform now, he watched them go - his own dear Indians who had become his silent family and friends, even his confessors.’
      • ‘Many see therapists today when what they may really need is a trusted and understanding confessor.’
      • ‘The audience takes the place of his confessor and, thanks to a compelling performance, experiences both disgust and fascination.’
      • ‘Specifically, it examines their role as counselors and confessors to married and unmarried women who sought to unburden their hearts and describe in detail the contours of their emotional and erotic lives.’
      • ‘He has a life coach, the trendy, increasingly ubiquitous equivalent of a therapist confessor, who tries to guide him.’
      • ‘Sometimes confessing is better for the confessor than the ‘confessee’ and just makes unnecessary trouble.’
  • 2A person who avows religious faith in the face of opposition, but does not suffer martyrdom.

    • ‘If I know us Lutherans, however, we'll be so busy testing the qualities of magnets and garlic and watching how our fellow confessors do so that we will attract anyone wearing steel and repel him by our smell.’
    • ‘And with each persecution came newly baptized confessors.’
    • ‘Martyrs did not entirely disappear, but they were different from their late antique predecessors; they might be bishops killed in political strife, missionaries killed by pagans, or confessors being ‘living dead’.’
    • ‘However, not only the martyrs but also the confessors bore their tribulations and infirmities with great patience, and have to this day.’
    • ‘The bishop and his men went once, twice, thrice around it, chanting all the while the litany of Christ, of Mary Ever-Virgin, the angels, apostles, glorious martyrs, confessors, and virgins sacred to God.’
  • 3A person who makes a confession.

    ‘if one prisoner confesses and implicates the other, the confessor will go free as a reward’
    • ‘Judges rarely render even highly suspicious confessions inadmissible, and juries often convict confessors, even in the absence of physical evidence.’
    • ‘It's an interactive video featuring real people confessing their most bizarre sins; with website viewers voting to absolve or condemn the confessor.’
    • ‘If yes, the test held, prosecutors could use it against the confessor; if not - if interrogators had coerced the confession - prosecutors couldn't use it.’
    • ‘Anyway, these dice are used to either forgive or condemn the confessor.’
    • ‘Its mandate was to hear the confessions of some of the most notorious perpetrators of atrocities during apartheid; these confessors could apply for amnesty in exchange for full disclosure.’
    • ‘Admittedly, these confessions inevitably end with a blatant disclaimer stressing the confessor's heterosexuality, so I'm not trying to argue that lesbianism has become mainstream.’
    • ‘They are diarists, confessors, intimate chroniclers of their slightly repugnant lives.’
    • ‘If one of them confesses and the other does not, the confessor gets a reward and his partner gets a heavy sentence.’
    • ‘Once signed, the written confession can condemn the confessor even after the confession has been retracted.’
    • ‘She clasped her hands in a parody of a confessor.’
    • ‘He has to wait in the church for the other confessors to finish, which leaves him plenty of time to keep meditating on the wretchedness of his sins.’


Old English (in confessor (sense 2)): from Old French confessour, from ecclesiastical Latin confessor, from Latin confess- ‘acknowledged’ (see confess).