One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1‘he confessed that he had attacked the old man’
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
2‘they tried everything they could think of to make him confess’
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
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
3‘I confess I don't know’
acknowledge, admit, concede, grant, allow, own, say, declare, affirm, accept, recognize, be aware of, be aware that, realize, be conscious of, be conscious that
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