• synonyms


noun, plural can·tos.
  1. one of the main or larger divisions of a long poem.
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Origin of canto

1580–90; < Italian < Latin cant(us) singing, song, equivalent to can(ere) to sing + -tus suffix of v. action; cf. cant1, chant
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for canto

Historical Examples

  • And with much force and animation she read them bits from the first canto.

    We Two

    Edna Lyall

  • In the mouth, nevertheless, of the fiend Astarotte, canto xxv.

  • What insight into the life of the clansmen is furnished in this canto?

    Ontario Teachers' Manuals: Literature

    Ontario Ministry of Education

  • Four lines at the end of this canto are among the most famous in the poem.

  • With these losses, the canto still contains 130 stanzas, or 526 lines.


    Edmund Gosse

British Dictionary definitions for canto


noun plural -tos
  1. music another word for cantus (def. 2)
  2. a main division of a long poem
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Word Origin

C16: from Italian: song, from Latin cantus, 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

Word Origin and History for canto


1580s, from Italian canto "song," from Latin cantus "song" (see chant (v.)). As "a section of a long poem," used in Italian by Dante, in English first by Spenser.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper