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[kuh n-fesh-uh n] /kənˈfɛʃ ən/
acknowledgment; avowal; admission:
a confession of incompetence.
acknowledgment or disclosure of sin or sinfulness, especially to a priest to obtain absolution.
something that is confessed.
a formal, usually written, acknowledgment of guilt by a person accused of a crime.
Also called confession of faith. a formal profession of belief and acceptance of doctrines, as before being admitted to church membership.
the tomb of a martyr or confessor or the altar or shrine connected with it.
Origin of confession
1350-1400; < Latin confessiōn- (stem of confessiō), equivalent to confess- (see confess) + -iōn- -ion; replacing Middle English confessioun < Anglo-French
Related forms
preconfession, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for confessions
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It is not without a feeling of shame that I make these confessions; but truth compels me to do so.

  • You can catch them now and then between two confessions or two sick calls.

    En Route J.-K. (Joris-Karl) Huysmans
  • Those who have read the confessions will have closed them with the impression that I had wholly renounced the use of opium.

  • It was thus that the affidavits and confessions cited were obtained.

    The Story of the Mormons William Alexander Linn
  • He bade those who were most mutinous, to depart if they would; and laughed scornfully at their confessions of inability.

    Calavar Robert Montgomery Bird
British Dictionary definitions for confessions


the act of confessing
something confessed
an acknowledgment or declaration, esp of one's faults, misdeeds, or crimes
(Christianity, mainly RC Church) the act of a penitent accusing himself or herself of his or her sins
confession of faith, a formal public avowal of religious beliefs
a religious denomination or sect united by a common system of beliefs
Derived Forms
confessionary, adjective
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 confessions



late 14c., "action of confessing," originally in religion, from Old French confession (10c.), from Latin confessionem (nominative confessio) "confession, acknowledgement," noun of action from past participle stem of confiteri (see confess). In law, from 1570s. Meaning "that which is confessed" is mid-15c. An Old English word for it was andettung, also scriftspræc.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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confessions in Culture

Confessions definition

The title of two well-known autobiographies: that of Augustine from the fourth century, describing his early years and his conversion to Christianity, and that of the eighteenth-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

confession definition

In some churches, notably the Roman Catholic Church, a sacrament in which repentant sinners individually or as a group privately confess their sins in front of a priest and receive absolution from the guilt of their sins.

In the first few centuries of Christianity, repentant sinners were assigned public penances: sinners had to stay outside the entrance of the church and ask the people going inside to pray for them. The period of public penance could be shortened through an indulgence.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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