[kuh n-fesh-uh n]
See more synonyms for confession on
  1. acknowledgment; avowal; admission: a confession of incompetence.
  2. acknowledgment or disclosure of sin or sinfulness, especially to a priest to obtain absolution.
  3. something that is confessed.
  4. a formal, usually written, acknowledgment of guilt by a person accused of a crime.
  5. Also called confession of faith. a formal profession of belief and acceptance of doctrines, as before being admitted to church membership.
  6. 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 formspre·con·fes·sion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for confessions

Contemporary Examples of confessions

Historical Examples of confessions

  • Your own confessions, Eudora, do not speak well for her instructions.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Name the particular creeds or confessions of the Lutheran Church?

  • If you plotted my disgrace by leading me into these confessions, you have found me easy prey.

  • Rousseau's Confessions has precisely this defect—he read it to his friends.

    A Hero of Our Time

    M. Y. Lermontov

  • Rousseau, in his "Confessions," reveals the sexual feelings of the masochist.

British Dictionary definitions for confessions


  1. the act of confessing
  2. something confessed
  3. an acknowledgment or declaration, esp of one's faults, misdeeds, or crimes
  4. Christianity, mainly RC Church the act of a penitent accusing himself or herself of his or her sins
  5. confession of faith a formal public avowal of religious beliefs
  6. a religious denomination or sect united by a common system of beliefs
Derived Formsconfessionary, 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

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

confessions in Culture


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.


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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.