cant

1
[kant]
||

noun

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.

verb (used without object)

to talk hypocritically.
to speak in the whining or singsong tone of a beggar; beg.

Nearby words

  1. canrobert,
  2. canrobert, françois certain,
  3. cans,
  4. canso,
  5. canst,
  6. cant dog,
  7. cant frame,
  8. cant hook,
  9. cant strip,
  10. cant.

Origin of cant

1
1495–1505; < Latin base cant- in cantus song, canticus singsong, etc., whence Old English cantere singer, cantic song; see chant

Related formscant·ing·ly, adverb

Can be confusedcant can't Kantcant jargon1 slang1

cant

2
[kant]

noun

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.

adjective

oblique or slanting.

verb (used with object)

to bevel; form an oblique surface upon.
to put in an oblique position; tilt; tip.
to throw with a sudden jerk.

verb (used without object)

to take or have an inclined position; tilt; turn.

Origin of cant

2
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

cant

3
[kahnt]

adjective Scot. and North England.

hearty; merry.

Origin of cant

3
1250–1300; Middle English < Low German kant merry, bold

Cant.

can't

[kant, kahnt]

contraction of cannot.
Can be confusedcant can't Kant

Usage note


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cant


British Dictionary definitions for cant

cant

1

noun

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

verb

(intr) to speak in or use cant
Derived Formscanter, nouncantingly, adverb

Word Origin for cant

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

noun

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

verb (tr)

to tip, tilt, or overturn, esp with a sudden jerk
to set in an oblique position
another word for bevel (def. 1)

adjective

oblique; slanting
having flat surfaces and without curves
Derived Formscantic, adjective

Word Origin for cant

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

adjective

Scot and Northern English dialect lusty; merry; hearty

Word Origin for cant

C14: related to Low German kant bold, merry

Cant.

abbreviation for

Canterbury
Bible Canticles

can't

contraction of

cannot
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 cant
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with cant

can't

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

also see:

  • 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.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.