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[kuh n-fes] /kənˈfɛs/
verb (used with object)
to acknowledge or avow (a fault, crime, misdeed, weakness, etc.) by way of revelation.
to own or admit as true:
I must confess that I haven't read the book.
to declare or acknowledge (one's sins), especially to God or a priest in order to obtain absolution.
(of a priest) to hear the confession of (a person).
to acknowledge one's belief or faith in; declare adherence to.
to reveal by circumstances.
verb (used without object)
to make confession; plead guilty; own:
to confess to a crime.
to make confession of sins, especially to a priest.
(of a priest) to hear confession.
1300-50; Middle English confessen < Anglo-French, Old French confesser < Medieval Latin confessāre, verbal derivative of Latin confessus, past participle of confitērī to admit, confess, equivalent to con- con- + -fitērī, combining form of fatērī to admit
Related forms
confessable, adjective
confessingly, adverb
half-confessed, adjective
preconfess, verb (used with object)
unconfessed, adjective
unconfessing, adjective
1. See acknowledge. 2. grant, concede.
1. conceal. 2. deny. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for confessed
  • Some of the accused had confessed as being witches, but none of them were hanged.
  • Despite its success, readers confessed to difficulty in grasping its more abstruse concepts.
  • The accused became so frantic by the extreme panic of having their head crushed that they confessed to anything.
  • He confessed he was terrified of being shot down as he drifted over hostile lands.
  • confessed a crime about which no formal charges were ever made.
  • Afterward, there was a surprised buzz in the auditorium as listeners confessed to loving a sometimes furiously dissonant piece.
  • He was metaphorically on his knees in penitence, and confessed himself a miserable sinner in the loveliest manner possible.
  • Nothing more nor less, it must be confessed, than life itself.
  • One in five confessed that the inferior quality of the samples might be compromising their data.
  • Prosecutors said he voluntarily confessed, offering details only the killer could have known.
British Dictionary definitions for confessed


verb (when transitive, may take a clause as object)
when intr, often foll by to. to make an acknowledgment or admission (of faults, misdeeds, crimes, etc)
(transitive) to admit or grant to be true; concede
(Christianity, mainly RC Church) to declare (one's sins) to God or to a priest as his representative, so as to obtain pardon and absolution
Derived Forms
confessable, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French confesser, from Late Latin confessāre, from Latin confessus confessed, from confitērī to admit, from fatērī to acknowledge; related to Latin fārī to speak
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for confessed

"self-acknowledged," 1560s, past participle adjective from confess.



late 14c., from Old French confesser (transitive and intransitive), from Vulgar Latin *confessare, from Latin confess-, past participle stem of confiteri "to acknowledge," from com- "together" (see com-) + fateri "to admit," akin to fari "speak" (see fame (n.)).

Its original religious sense was of one who avows his religion in spite of persecution or danger but does not suffer martyrdom. Old French confesser thus had a figurative sense of "to harm, hurt, make suffer." Related: Confessed; confessing. An Old English word for it was andettan.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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