1. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Confess against..."

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by HorusEye, Mar 28, 2013.

    My idea was that the verb "to confess" implied that the object and subject was one and the same person. For example, to confess one's own guilt, sin, or "confess against oneself", but when I caught myself writing "You must confess against him." and was lost for any good synonym that wouldn't result in a much longer sentence, I started wondering whether this is acceptable English or not. I did find one such use of it in a printed book (regarding the Prisoner's Dilemma): "If you confess against the other and he remains silent then you can go free [...]" and my search returned a few articles that used confess similarly as a synonym for revealing one's knowledge about the sins/guilt of some other person than oneself.

    So, yeah, my question really just is whether it's a proper use of "confess", and if not, what's the word that does exactly what I want?
    For some odd reason the word "testify" rings completely false in the context.
     
  2. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    In a court, for example, testify is exactly the word to use. Testify against, in your context.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you seem to be meaning 'accuse' as in ""If you accuse the other and he remains silent then you can go free"... but 'confess against' makes no sense whatsoever... one simply will 'confess' or 'confess to' whatever crime was committed...

    as noted above, 'testify against' only relates to speaking out in court... so, if a trial is not being referred to, then it won't work...

    you could also be meaning 'inform on' as in telling the police what the other person did...

    can't help you any further without knowing the context... give me the preceding sentence and some idea of what is going on in that scene and i can give you other alternatives, if these don't help...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    There's no such thing as "confess against" - if you're confessing, then what you're saying must be true (that's what a confession is right) - so it makes no sense to demand that someone "confess against" someone else. If the testimony can be held against another person, that is the natural outcome of what the true situation is, rather than an accusation that you're actively bringing against someone. You simply confess the truth - you cannot confess against anything/anyone. The very idea of it makes no sense.
     
  5. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for all the replies. It seems my original idea of the usage for the word was right.

    Mammamaia - the situation is one person trying to force another to rat on their family, i.e. reveal compromising information about them. "rat on" seems too much like slang for the character, and "testify against" sounds too much like affirming an accusation in court.

    I guess I'm really looking for a verb as the more formal variation of "to rat on".
     
  6. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    You mean like when someone is backstabbing someone else? Or grassing/snitching on them?
     
  7. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Snitching.
     

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