from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Heraldry A wide horizontal band forming the middle section of an escutcheon.
  • intransitive v. Informal To admit to something; confess, often used with up: "won't fess up to being even vaguely liberalā€ ( Jonathan Alter).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A horizontal band across the middle of the shield.
  • v. To confess; to admit.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A band drawn horizontally across the center of an escutcheon, and containing in breadth the third part of it; one of the nine honorable ordinaries.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. See fesse.
  • n. A cap of cloth or felt, often embroidered, made in Russia, near the Black Sea.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (heraldry) an ordinary consisting of a broad horizontal band across a shield


Middle English fesse, from Old French, from Latin fascia, band.
Short for confess.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From confess, by shortening (Wiktionary)
From Old French fesse, an alteration of faisse, from Latin fascia (Wiktionary)


  • Truth & Reconciliation: The Israeli neo-cons need to 'fess up! yahooBuzzArticleHeadline =' Truth & Reconciliation: The Israeli neo-cons need to \'fess up! '

    Truth & Reconciliation: The Israeli neo-cons need to 'fess up!

  • Call them collectors, in other words - even though it's not a moniker they fess up to.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • Another modern coat which may provoke a groan is that granted in 1977 to Dr. Claude Bursill, which includes three burrs, or teasels, and the heraldic ordinary known as a fess, which resembles a horizontal slab or sill.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XIII No 1

  • If you give them the right information, you kind of fess up, chances are that you can get out of this by paying a fine and paying your back-taxes.

    CNN Transcript Apr 15, 2008

  • Just another trivia point: when the stripe is horizontal, it's called a "fess".


  • Won't you make it easy to "'fess" so I may be happy again?

    Letters of a Woman Homesteader

  • ME at Nice, Monte Carlo, Chantilly -- bow to the p'fess'r; he's RIGHT!

    The Guest of Quesnay

  • He had passed brilliantly in engineering; had been saved by his prompt and ready answers the consequences of a "fess" with clean black-board in ordnance and gunnery; had won a ringing, though involuntary, round of applause from the crowded galleries of the riding-hall by daring horsemanship, and he was now within seven days of the prized diploma and his commission.

    Starlight Ranch and Other Stories of Army Life on the Frontier

  • You are going to 'fess' cos of the pain in your little hearts.

    Girls of the Forest

  • It did set the stomach right, but the conscience still worried her, for she could not make up her mind to 'fess' the sly, greedy thing she had done.

    Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag


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