late O.E., "one who avows his religion," especially in the face of danger, but does not suffer martyrdom, from L. confessor
, agent noun from confiteri
). Meaning "one who hears confessions" is from 1340; this properly would be L. confessarius
, but L. confessor
was being used in this sense from the 9th century. Edward the Confessor
(c.1003-1066, canonized 1161), last Anglo-Saxon king, was pious enough but does not seem to fit his title; perhaps so called to distinguish him from another Anglo-Saxon saint/king, Edward the Martyr
, who does.