Confess and Profess

Confess & Profess


[reporting verb]
  • admit that one has committed a crime or done something wrong: [with clause]: he confessed that he had attacked the old man [no object]: he wants to confess to Caroline’s murder [with direct speech]: ‘I damaged your car,’ she confessed
  • acknowledge something reluctantly, typically because one feels slightly ashamed or embarrassed: [with clause]: I must confess that I half believed you [no object]: he confessed to a lifelong passion for food
  • [with object] declare (one’s religious faith): 150 people confessed faith in Christ
  • declare one’s sins formally to a priest: [with object]: I could not confess all my sins to the priest [no object]: he gave himself up after confessing to a priest
  • [with object] (of a priest) listen to the confession of: St Ambrose would weep bitter tears when confessing a sinner


late Middle English: from Old French confesser, from Latin confessus, past participle of confiteri ‘acknowledge’, from con- (expressing intensive force) + fateri ‘declare, avow’



[with object]
  • 1claim, often falsely, that one has (a quality or feeling): he had professed his love for her only to walk away [with infinitive]: I don’t profess to be an expert [with complement]: (profess oneself) he professed himself amazed at the boy’s ability
  • archaic have or claim knowledge or skill in (a subject or accomplishment): though knowing little of the arts I professed, he proved a natural adept
  • 2affirm one’s faith in or allegiance to (a religion or set of beliefs): a people professing Christianity
  • (be professed) be received into a religious order under vows: she entered St Margaret’s Convent, and was professed in 1943
  • 3 archaic or humorous teach (a subject) as a professor: a professor—what does he profess?


Middle English (as be professed ‘be received into a religious order’): from Latin profess- ‘declared publicly’, from the verb profiteri, from pro- ‘before’ + fateri ‘confess’

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