adjective (1)
\ ˈkant How to pronounce cant (audio) \

Definition of cant

 (Entry 1 of 7)

dialectal, England


verb (1)
canted; canting; cants

Definition of cant (Entry 2 of 7)

transitive verb

1 : to give a cant or oblique edge to : bevel cant off a corner
2 : to set at an angle : tilt cant a cask
3 chiefly British : to throw with a lurch

intransitive verb

1 : to pitch to one side : lean The deck of the ship was canting.
2 : slope The roof canted gently.


noun (1)

Definition of cant (Entry 3 of 7)

1 obsolete : corner, niche
2 : an external angle (as of a building)
3 : a log with one or more squared sides
4a : an oblique or slanting surface the cant of a riverbank
b : inclination, slope the cant of a gun barrel


adjective (2)

Definition of cant (Entry 4 of 7)

1 : having canted corners or sides a cant molding
2 : inclined sense 2 a cant buttress


verb (2)
canted; canting; cants

Definition of cant (Entry 5 of 7)

intransitive verb

1 : to talk or beg in a whining or singsong manner bade me cant and whine in another place— Samuel Johnson
2 : to speak in cant or jargon The thieves were canting among themselves.
3 : to talk hypocritically canted about brotherly love


noun (2)

Definition of cant (Entry 6 of 7)

1 : affected singsong or whining speech a beggar's cant
2a : the private language of the underworld the cant of thieves
b obsolete : the phraseology peculiar to a religious class or sect
3 : a set or stock phrase
4 : the expression or repetition of conventional or trite opinions or sentiments especially : the insincere use of pious words the cant of hypocrites

Definition of Cant (Entry 7 of 7)

First Known Use of cant

Adjective (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb (1)

circa 1543, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (1)

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective (2)

1663, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1640, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cant

Adjective (1)

Middle English, probably from Middle Low German *kant

Noun (1) and Verb (1)

Middle English cant side, probably from Middle Dutch or Middle French dialect; Middle Dutch, edge, corner, from Middle French dialect (Picard), from Latin canthus, cantus iron tire, perhaps of Celt origin; akin to Welsh cant rim; perhaps akin to Greek kanthos corner of the eye

Verb (2)

perhaps from Middle French dialect (Norman-Picard) canter to tell, literally, to sing, from Latin cantare — more at chant

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Dictionary Entries near cant

Canso, Strait of







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Time Traveler for cant

The first known use of cant was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for cant


\ ˈkant How to pronounce cant (audio) \

Medical Definition of cant

: an oblique or slanting surface

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More from Merriam-Webster on cant

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cant

Spanish Central: Translation of cant

Nglish: Translation of cant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cant for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about cant

Comments on cant

What made you want to look up cant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a period when something is suspended

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