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  1. an easy gallop.
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to move or ride at a canter.

Origin of canter1

First recorded in 1745–55; short for Canterbury to ride at a pace like that of Canterbury pilgrims


  1. a person who is much given to the use of cant.

Origin of canter2

First recorded in 1870–75; cant1 + -er1


  1. a salient angle.
  2. a sudden movement that tilts or overturns a thing.
  3. a slanting or tilted position.
  4. an oblique line or surface, as one formed by cutting off the corner of a square of cube.
  5. an oblique or slanting face of anything.
  6. Civil Engineering. bank1(def 6).
  7. a sudden pitch or toss.
  8. Also called flitch. a partly trimmed log.
  1. oblique or slanting.
verb (used with object)
  1. to bevel; form an oblique surface upon.
  2. to put in an oblique position; tilt; tip.
  3. to throw with a sudden jerk.
verb (used without object)
  1. to take or have an inclined position; tilt; turn.

Origin of cant2

1325–75; Middle English: side, border < Anglo-French cant, Old French chant < a Romance base *cantu(m) with the related senses “rim, border” and “angle corner,” probably < Celtic; compare Latin cant(h)us iron tire (< Celtic), Welsh cant periphery, rim, felloe; probably not akin to Greek kanthós corner of the eye; cf. canteen, cantle, canton
Related formscant·ic, adjective


adjective Scot. and North England.
  1. hearty; merry.

Origin of cant3

1250–1300; Middle English < Low German kant merry, bold
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for canter

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for canter


  1. an easy three-beat gait of horses, etc, between a trot and a gallop in speed
  2. at a canter easily; without efforthe won at a canter
  1. to move or cause to move at a canter

Word Origin

C18: short for Canterbury trot, the supposed pace at which pilgrims rode to Canterbury


  1. insincere talk, esp concerning religion or morals; pious platitudes
  2. stock phrases that have become meaningless through repetition
  3. specialized vocabulary of a particular group, such as thieves, journalists, or lawyers; jargon
  4. singsong whining speech, as used by beggars
  1. (intr) to speak in or use cant
Derived Formscanter, nouncantingly, adverb

Word Origin

C16: probably via Norman French canter to sing, from Latin cantāre; used disparagingly, from the 12th century, of chanting in religious services


  1. inclination from a vertical or horizontal plane; slope; slant
  2. a sudden movement that tilts or turns something
  3. the angle or tilt thus caused
  4. a corner or outer angle, esp of a building
  5. an oblique or slanting surface, edge, or line
verb (tr)
  1. to tip, tilt, or overturn, esp with a sudden jerk
  2. to set in an oblique position
  3. another word for bevel (def. 1)
  1. oblique; slanting
  2. having flat surfaces and without curves
Derived Formscantic, adjective

Word Origin

C14 (in the sense: edge, corner): perhaps from Latin canthus iron hoop round a wheel, of obscure origin


  1. Scot and Northern English dialect lusty; merry; hearty

Word Origin

C14: related to Low German kant bold, merry
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for canter


1706, from a contraction of Canterbury gallop (1630s), "easy pace at which pilgrims ride to Canterbury" (q.v.). Related: Cantered; cantering.


1755, from canter (v.).



"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").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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