I'm looking for a word that means to confess prior wrongdoing. "Confess" would work, but it's fairly unremarkable.

I'm particularly looking for a word which suggests someone is looking back on his/her behavior with intense regret and guilt. For example, Macbeth in some instances shows signs of great remorse for the murder of his king and friend.

For example, "He bowed his head in shame as he made invocations to God and _ed his sins."

Extra points for archaic/intricate words.

  • Two quotes from Merriam Webster: ""The country is reluctant to confront its violent past."" "" The photographs confront the viewer with images of desperate poverty."" – Hugh Dec 4 '15 at 3:26
  • 1
    There is a big difference between "confess" and "regret" - which way do you want this word to head? – Cargill Dec 4 '15 at 3:33
  • ? repudiated, excoriated.(M-W -to censure scathingly) – Hugh Dec 4 '15 at 4:20
  • 1
    @Cargill One could guess that the OP is looking for "confess regretfully" ? – GreenAsJade Dec 4 '15 at 9:17

Consider repent oneself:

repent oneself (archaic): feel regret or penitence about
I repent me of all I did

(Oxford American Dictionary)

In your case you could say:

He bowed his head in shame as he made invocations to God and repented himself of his sins.

You can also say repent of or simply repent:

repent of (intr.):

feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one's wrongdoing or sin

Example: he repented of his action

repent (trans.):

view or think of (an action or omission) with deep regret or remorse

Example: Marian came to repent her hasty judgement

(Oxford American Dictionary)

Alternatively, there's rue:

To feel regret, remorse, or sorrow.


feel remorse for; feel sorry for; be contrite about


In addition, there are appropriate nouns that would fit the bill, but using them would require changing your sentence or using a short phrase:

  • repentance (remorse or contrition for past conduct or sin)
  • contrition (sincere remorse for wrongdoing, repentance)
  • penitence (condition or quality of being penitent; regret for wrongdoing)

(All definitions from the American Heritage Dictionary)

  • Excuse me for not responding earlier. These are all exactly along the lines of what I was looking for. Not sure if any of them quite captures the emotion I'm looking for, but it doesn't seem there's a better alternative. Thanks! – Randoms Dec 21 '15 at 2:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.