cant

1
[ kant ]
See synonyms for cant on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. insincere, especially conventional expressions of enthusiasm for high ideals, goodness, or piety.

  2. the private language of the underworld.

  1. the phraseology peculiar to a particular class, party, profession, etc.: the cant of the fashion industry.

  2. whining or singsong speech, especially of beggars.

verb (used without object)
  1. to talk hypocritically.

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

Origin of cant

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

Other words for cant

Other words from cant

  • cant·ing·ly, adverb

Words that may be confused with cant

Other definitions for cant (2 of 5)

cant2
[ kant ]

noun
  1. a salient angle.

  2. a sudden movement that tilts or overturns a thing.

  1. a slanting or tilted position.

  2. an oblique line or surface, as one formed by cutting off the corner of a square of cube.

  3. an oblique or slanting face of anything.

  4. Civil Engineering. bank1 (def. 6).

  5. a sudden pitch or toss.

  6. Also called flitch. a partly trimmed log.

adjective
  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.

  1. to throw with a sudden jerk.

verb (used without object)
  1. to take or have an inclined position; tilt; tip.

Origin of cant

2
First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English: “side, part, border,” from Anglo-French cant, Old French chant, from an unrecorded Romance cantu(m) with the related senses “rim, border” and “angle corner,” probably from Celtic; compare Latin cant(h)us “tire, iron tire” (from Celtic kantos ), Welsh cant “periphery, rim, felloe” cf. canteen, cantle, canton

Other words from cant

  • cantic, adjective

Other definitions for cant (3 of 5)

cant3
[ kahnt ]

adjectiveScot. and North England.

Origin of cant

3
First recorded in 1325–1375; Middle English cant, kant, kaunt “bold, brave, fierce,” from Low German kant “merry, bold”

Other definitions for can't (4 of 5)

can't
[ kant, kahnt ]

  1. contraction of cannot.

usage note For can't

usage note For can't

See cannot.

Words that may be confused with can't

Other definitions for Cant. (5 of 5)

Cant.

abbreviation
  1. Canterbury.

  2. Cantonese.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use cant in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cant (1 of 5)

cant1

/ (kænt) /


noun
  1. insincere talk, esp concerning religion or morals; pious platitudes

  2. stock phrases that have become meaningless through repetition

  1. specialized vocabulary of a particular group, such as thieves, journalists, or lawyers; jargon

  2. singsong whining speech, as used by beggars

verb
  1. (intr) to speak in or use cant

Origin of cant

1
C16: probably via Norman French canter to sing, from Latin cantāre; used disparagingly, from the 12th century, of chanting in religious services

Derived forms of cant

  • canter, noun
  • cantingly, adverb

British Dictionary definitions for cant (2 of 5)

cant2

/ (kænt) /


noun
  1. inclination from a vertical or horizontal plane; slope; slant

  2. a sudden movement that tilts or turns something

  1. the angle or tilt thus caused

  2. a corner or outer angle, esp of a building

  3. 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

  1. another word for bevel (def. 1)

adjective
  1. oblique; slanting

  2. having flat surfaces and without curves

Origin of cant

2
C14 (in the sense: edge, corner): perhaps from Latin canthus iron hoop round a wheel, of obscure origin

Derived forms of cant

  • cantic, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for cant (3 of 5)

cant3

/ (kɑːnt) /


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

Origin of cant

3
C14: related to Low German kant bold, merry

British Dictionary definitions for can't (4 of 5)

can't

/ (kɑːnt) /


contraction of
  1. cannot

British Dictionary definitions for Cant. (5 of 5)

Cant.

abbreviation for
  1. Canterbury

  2. Bible Canticles

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with cant

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

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.