The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Confess \Con*fess"\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Confessed; p. pr. &
vb. n. Confessing.] [F. confesser, fr. L. confessus, p. p.
of confiteri to confess; con- + fateri to confess; akin to
fari to speak. See 2d Ban, Fame.]
1. To make acknowledgment or avowal in a matter pertaining to
one's self; to acknowledge, own, or admit, as a crime, a
fault, a debt.
And there confess
Humbly our faults, and pardon beg. --Milton.
I must confess I was most pleased with a beautiful
prospect that none of them have mentioned.
2. To acknowledge faith in; to profess belief in.
Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men,
him will I confess, also, before my Father which is
in heaven. --Matt. x. 32.
For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection,
neither angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess
both. --Acts xxiii.
3. To admit as true; to assent to; to acknowledge, as after a
previous doubt, denial, or concealment.
I never gave it him. Send for him hither,
And let him confess a truth. --Shak.
As I confess it needs must be. --Tennyson.
As an actor confessed without rival to shine.
(a) To make known or acknowledge, as one's sins to a
priest, in order to receive absolution; -- sometimes
followed by the reflexive pronoun.
Our beautiful votary took an opportunity of
confessing herself to this celebrated father.
(b) To hear or receive such confession; -- said of a
He . . . heard mass, and the prince, his son,
with him, and the most part of his company were
confessed. --Ld. Berners.
5. To disclose or reveal, as an effect discloses its cause;
to prove; to attest.
Tall thriving trees confessed the fruitful mold.
Syn: Admit; grant; concede; avow; own; assent; recognize;
prove; exhibit; attest.
Usage: To Confess, Acknowledge, Avow. Acknowledge is
opposed to conceal. We acknowledge what we feel must
or ought to be made known. (See Acknowledge.) Avow
is opposed to withhold. We avow when we make an open
and public declaration, as against obloquy or
opposition; as, to avow one's principles; to avow
one's participation in some act. Confess is opposed to
deny. We confess (in the ordinary sense of the word)
what we feel to have been wrong; as, to confess one's
errors or faults. We sometimes use confess and
acknowledge when there is no admission of our being in
the wrong; as, this, I confess, is my opinion; I
acknowledge I have always thought so; but in these
cases we mean simply to imply that others may perhaps
think us in the wrong, and hence we use the words by
way of deference to their opinions. It was in this way
that the early Christians were led to use the Latin
confiteor and confessio fidei to denote the public
declaration of their faith in Christianity; and hence
the corresponding use in English of the verb confess
and the noun confession.