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[kan-ter, -tawr] /ˈkæn tər, -tɔr/
the religious official of a synagogue who conducts the liturgical portion of a service and sings or chants the prayers and parts of prayers designed to be performed as solos.
an official whose duty is to lead the singing in a cathedral or in a collegiate or parish church; a precentor.
Origin of cantor
1530-40; < Latin: singer, equivalent to can(ere) to sing + -tor -tor
Can be confused
canter, cantor.


[kan-ter; for 2 also German kahn-tawr] /ˈkæn tər; for 2 also German ˈkɑn tɔr/
Eddie (Edward Israel Iskovitz) 1892–1964, U.S. singer and entertainer.
[gey-awrk] /geɪˈɔrk/ (Show IPA),
1845–1918, German mathematician, born in Russia. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cantor
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "You hear what young Mr cantor has said," continued the lawyer.

    Cousin Henry

    Anthony Trollope
  • "Joe, ye shall be made to sit out in the kitchen; ye shall," said cantor the father.

    Cousin Henry

    Anthony Trollope
  • "I know'd it," said young cantor, clenching his fist almost in her face.

    Cousin Henry

    Anthony Trollope
  • "I'll swear that's one of my pupils, he is so pugnacious," thought the cantor to himself.

    The Day of Wrath Maurus Jkai
  • We went up the river as far as cantor (some five hundred miles).

    A Book of Discovery Margaret Bertha (M. B.) Synge
British Dictionary definitions for cantor


(Judaism) Also called chazan. a man employed to lead synagogue services, esp to traditional modes and melodies
(Christianity) the leader of the singing in a church choir
Word Origin
C16: from Latin: singer, from canere to sing
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
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Word Origin and History for cantor

1530s, "church song-leader," from Latin cantor "singer, poet, actor," agent noun from past participle stem of canere "to sing" (see chant (v.)). Applied in English to the Hebrew chazan from 1893.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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