affectedly or hypocritically pious or righteous: a canting social reformer.

Origin of canting

First recorded in 1560–70; cant1 + -ing2




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.

Origin of cant

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

Synonyms for cant




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.

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

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

Related Words for canting

dishonest, insincere, self-righteous, two-faced

Examples from the Web for canting

Historical Examples of canting

  • He threw the helmet with a clatter on to the table as if it had been the knave's canting head.


    William J. Locke

  • His tongue is very voluble, which, with canting, proves him a linguist.

  • The sanctity of human life is the canting cry of the falsely sentimental.

    The Avenger

    E. Phillips Oppenheim

  • To bed with you, you canting hypocrite; your wound makes you light-headed.

    The Tavern Knight

    Rafael Sabatini

  • The uncle was a damn rebellious, canting, planting Scotchman.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

British Dictionary definitions for canting




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
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




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)


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




Scot and Northern English dialect lusty; merry; hearty

Word Origin for cant

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 canting



"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