Etymology
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confess (v.)

late 14c., transitive and intransitive, "make avowal or admission of" (a fault, crime, sin, debt, etc.), from Old French confesser (transitive and intransitive), from Vulgar Latin *confessare, a frequentative form from Latin confess-, past participle stem of confiteri "to acknowledge," from assimilated form of com "together" (see con-) + fateri "to admit," akin to fari "speak," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say."

Its original religious sense was in reference to one who avows his religion in spite of persecution or danger but does not suffer martyrdom (compare confessor). Old French confesser thus had also a figurative sense of "to harm, hurt, make suffer." Related: Confessed; confessing. An Old English word for it was andettan.

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confessed (adj.)

"self-acknowledged, admitted," 1560s, past-participle adjective from confess. Related: Confessedly.

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confessional (adj.)

"pertaining to confession," mid-15c., from Medieval Latin confessionalis, from past-participle stem of confiteri "to acknowledge" (see confess).

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fess (v.)
shortened form of confess, attested by 1840, American English. With up (adv.) from 1930. Related: Fessed; fesses; fessing.
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confessional (n.)

"small stall in a Catholic church in which a priest sits to hear confession," 1727, from French confessional, from Medieval Latin confessionale, noun use of neuter of confessionalis (adj.), from past-participle stem of confiteri "to acknowledge" (see confess).

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confession (n.)

late 14c., confessioun, "action of confessing, acknowledgment of a fault or wrong," originally in religion, "the disclosing of sins or faults to a priest as one of the four parts of the sacrament of penance," from Old French confession (10c.), from Latin confessionem (nominative confessio) "confession, acknowledgement," noun of action from past-participle stem of confiteri "to acknowledge" (see confess).

An Old English word for it was andettung, also scriftspræc. Meaning "that which is confessed" is mid-15c.  Meaning "a formula of the articles of a religious faith, a creed to be assented to" is from late 14c. In the common law, "admission or acknowledgment of guilt made in court or before a magistrate," 1570s.

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confessor (n.)

late Old English, "one who avows his religion," especially in the face of danger, but does not suffer martyrdom, from Latin confessor, agent noun from past-participle stem of confiteri "to acknowledge" (see confess). Meaning "one who hears confessions" is from mid-14c.; this properly would be Latin confessarius, but Latin confessor was being used in this sense from the 9th century. Meaning "one who admits to a crime" is from 1690s.

Edward the Confessor (c. 1003-1066, canonized 1161), the late Anglo-Saxon king, lived a pious life and died with the reputation of sanctity but does not seem to fit his title; perhaps he was so called to distinguish him from another Anglo-Saxon saint/king, Edward the Martyr (c. 962-979), who better fits his.

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*bha- (2)

*bhā-; Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to speak, tell, say."

It forms all or part of: abandon; affable; anthem; antiphon; aphasia; aphonia; aphonic; apophasis; apophatic; ban (n.1) "proclamation or edict;" ban (v.); banal; bandit; banish; banlieue; banns (n.); bifarious; blame; blaspheme; blasphemy; boon (n.); cacophony; confess; contraband; defame; dysphemism; euphemism; euphony; fable; fabulous; fado; fairy; fame; famous; fandango; fatal; fate; fateful; fatuous; fay; gramophone; heterophemy; homophone; ineffable; infamous; infamy; infant; infantile; infantry; mauvais; megaphone; microphone; monophonic; nefandous; nefarious; phatic; -phone; phone (n.2) "elementary sound of a spoken language;" phoneme; phonetic; phonic; phonics; phono-; pheme; -phemia; Polyphemus; polyphony; preface; profess; profession; professional; professor; prophecy; prophet; prophetic; quadraphonic; symphony; telephone; xylophone.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek pheme "speech, voice, utterance, a speaking, talk," phōnē "voice, sound" of a human or animal, also "tone, voice, pronunciation, speech," phanai "to speak;" Sanskrit bhanati "speaks;" Latin fari "to say," fabula "narrative, account, tale, story," fama "talk, rumor, report; reputation, public opinion; renown, reputation;" Armenian ban, bay "word, term;" Old Church Slavonic bajati "to talk, tell;" Old English boian "to boast," ben "prayer, request;" Old Irish bann "law."

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shrive (v.)

Middle English shriven "make confession; administer the sacrament of penance to," from Old English scrifan "assign, prescribe, ordain, decree; impose penance, hear confession; have regard for, care for," apparently originally "to write" (strong, past tense scraf, past participle scrifen), from Proto-Germanic *skriban (source also of Old Saxon scriban, Old Frisian skriva "write; impose penance;" Old Dutch scrivan, Dutch schrijven, German schreiben "to write, draw, paint;" Danish skrifte "confess"), an early borrowing from Latin scribere "to write" (from PIE root *skribh- "to cut"), which in Old English and Scandinavian developed further to "confess, hear or receive confession."

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craven (adj.)

c. 1200, cravant "defeated, vanquished, overcome, conquered," apparently adapted from Old French cravent "defeated, beaten," past participle of cravanter "to strike down, to fall down," from Latin crepare "to crack, creak" (see raven). The sense, apparently affected by crave, shifted from "defeated" to "cowardly" (c. 1400) perhaps via intermediary sense of "confess oneself defeated." As a noun, "an acknowledged coward," 1580s. Related: Cravenly; cravenness.

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