- insincere, especially conventional expressions of enthusiasm for high ideals, goodness, or piety.
- the private language of the underworld.
- the phraseology peculiar to a particular class, party, profession, etc.: the cant of the fashion industry.
- whining or singsong speech, especially of beggars.
- to talk hypocritically.
- to speak in the whining or singsong tone of a beggar; beg.
Origin of cant1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- a salient angle.
- a sudden movement that tilts or overturns a thing.
- a slanting or tilted position.
- an oblique line or surface, as one formed by cutting off the corner of a square of cube.
- an oblique or slanting face of anything.
- Civil Engineering. bank1(def 6).
- a sudden pitch or toss.
- Also called flitch. a partly trimmed log.
- oblique or slanting.
- to bevel; form an oblique surface upon.
- to put in an oblique position; tilt; tip.
- to throw with a sudden jerk.
- to take or have an inclined position; tilt; turn.
Origin of cant2
- hearty; merry.
Origin of cant3
- contraction of cannot.
Examples from the Web for cant
Satirists occupy a perilous position—to skewer dogma and cant, and to antagonize the establishment while needing its protection.Harry Shearer on The Dangerous Business of Satire
January 8, 2015
On the periphery, tents pitched under overpasses cant against the dirty wind.Catastrophe in Verse
April 21, 2011
And as to your cant of living single, nobody will believe you.Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)
In the cant of modern metaphysics, the moment was psychological.The Black Bag
Louis Joseph Vance
He must be told in the end, for we cant leave him here alone.
But we cant leave him to his fate, in this fashion, said Altamont.
Sheep was a cant word of the time for a spy, under the gaolers.A Tale of Two Cities
- insincere talk, esp concerning religion or morals; pious platitudes
- stock phrases that have become meaningless through repetition
- specialized vocabulary of a particular group, such as thieves, journalists, or lawyers; jargon
- singsong whining speech, as used by beggars
- (intr) to speak in or use cant
- inclination from a vertical or horizontal plane; slope; slant
- a sudden movement that tilts or turns something
- the angle or tilt thus caused
- a corner or outer angle, esp of a building
- an oblique or slanting surface, edge, or line
- to tip, tilt, or overturn, esp with a sudden jerk
- to set in an oblique position
- another word for bevel (def. 1)
- oblique; slanting
- having flat surfaces and without curves
- Scot and Northern English dialect lusty; merry; hearty
- Bible Canticles
Word Origin and History for cant
"insincere talk," 1709, earlier it was slang for "whining of beggars" (1640s), from the verb in this sense (1560s), from Old North French canter (Old French chanter) "to sing, chant," from Latin cantare, frequentative of canere "to sing" (see chant (v.)). Sense in English developed after 1680 to mean the jargon of criminals and vagabonds, thence applied contemptuously by any sect or school to the phraseology of its rival.
... Slang is universal, whilst Cant is restricted in usage to certain classes of the community: thieves, vagrom men, and -- well, their associates. ... Slang boasts a quasi-respectability denied to Cant, though Cant is frequently more enduring, its use continuing without variation of meaning for many generations. [John S. Farmer, Forewords to "Musa Pedestris," 1896]
"slope, slant," late 14c., Scottish, "edge, brink," from Old North French cant "corner" (perhaps via Middle Low German kante or Middle Dutch kant), from Vulgar Latin *canthus, from Latin cantus "iron tire of a wheel," possibly from a Celtic word meaning "rim of wheel, edge" (cf. Welsh cant "bordering of a circle, tire, edge," Breton cant "circle"), from PIE *kam-bo- "corner, bend," from root *kemb- "to bend, turn, change" (cf. Greek kanthos "corner of the eye," Russian kutu "corner").
1706, contraction of cannot.
Idioms and Phrases with cant
In addition to the idioms beginning with can't
- can't abide
- can't but
- can't complain
- can't do anything with
- can't fight City Hall
- can't help
- can't hit the broad side of a barn
- can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear
- can't make head or tail of
- can't punch one's way out of a paper bag
- can't see beyond the end of one's nose.
- can't seem to
- can't see the forest for the trees
- can't stand
- can't wait
- beggars can't be choosers
- if you can't beat them, join them
- you can't take it with you
- you can't win them all
Also see undercan.