Is confess the right word for this context? Would admit be a better choice? Can you provide me with other options?

I must confess I'm very keen on sports.

  • You wouldn't normally "confess / admit" to something as "normal" as liking sports. Whatever follows I must confess is nearly always something "unusual, undesirable" (albeit often just facetiously, as in I must admit I like to talk dirty in the bedroom). It's very often the case that what we own up to with this construction is expressed using some kind of negation. So there are many written instances of I must confess I'm no expert, but it's hard to imagine any context in which someone might say I must confess I'm an expert without negation. Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 13:35
  • @FumbleFingers I could imagine a contrived scenario: The chess club, or D&D guild, etc., are talking about how much they hate the anti-intellectualism and brute force of sports. "Don't you agree, Pete?" Pete is cornered, but reluctantly truthful... Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 14:43
  • But Simo Ita, this question can't be answered well unless you edit it to explain more about what meaning you want (and give more context). Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 14:44
  • @AndyBonner: Obviously there are many contexts where my "rule of thumb" above doesn't apply. But practically every native Anglophone would agree that OP's specific example sentence here is at the very least "unusual". And I'm guessing that when Simo wrote that example, he/she didn't realise it was unusual specifically for the reason I gave (since it's actually the non-negated "very keen" that grates, not the choice between "confess" and "allow" that Simo thought might be relevant). Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 17:20

1 Answer 1


An 'admission', or to admit something, is to reveal anything that you had not previously been open about.

A 'confession', or to confess something, is usually the admission of something bad, such as a transgression or a misdemeanour. So, a confession is a type of admission, but mainly about something bad.

You'll find both "I must admit..." and "I must confess..." are used in very lighthearted contexts, not about bad things at all. Sometimes it is just in jest, but sometimes it might be to imply a "guilty pleasure". Again, this term is used very lightheartedly and doesn't usually refer to real guilt. Most people would consider a guilty pleasure to be something they maybe were more fanatical about than they would like to admit, spend too much time on, or perhaps something considered 'lowbrow' that they enjoy nonetheless.

So, consider the context of your phrase - why is the person admitting to liking sports? Most people do. Are they talking to someone who does not like them? Either choice could be idiomatic, one is just slightly stronger than the other.

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