can·​to | \ ˈkan-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce canto (audio) \
plural cantos

Definition of canto

: one of the major divisions of a long poem

Examples of canto in a Sentence

the first canto of Dante's “Inferno”
Recent Examples on the Web Dante celebrates Giotto’s fame, somewhat sarcastically, in the eleventh canto of Purgatory. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 13 Sep. 2021 Written in two cantos, the full work is nearly two dozen verses. Gillian Brockell, Washington Post, 19 Feb. 2018 The show convenes a suite of drawings employing that technique, made between 1958 and 1960: putative illustrations of the thirty-four cantos of Dante’s Inferno. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 29 May 2017 During the next three-hour lunch, over bowls of ramen noodle soup in a small café, words flowed and everything that emanated from the 77-year old writer's mouth sounded like the beginning of a poem, a delightful Caribbean canto. Sandra Guzman, NBC News, 11 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'canto.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of canto

1590, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for canto

Italian, from Latin cantus song, from canere to sing — more at chant

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Dictionary Entries Near canto

cant molding


canto fermo

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Statistics for canto

Last Updated

21 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Canto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for canto



English Language Learners Definition of canto

: a major section of a long poem


can·​to | \ ˈkan-ˌtō How to pronounce canto (audio) \
plural cantos

Kids Definition of canto

: one of the major divisions of a long poem

More from Merriam-Webster on canto

Nglish: Translation of canto for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about canto


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