cant

1 of 7

noun (1)

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

cant

2 of 7

verb (1)

canted; canting; cants

intransitive verb

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

cant

3 of 7

verb (2)

canted; canting; cants

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

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

cant

4 of 7

noun (2)

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

cant

5 of 7

adjective (1)

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

cant

6 of 7

adjective (2)

dialectal, England

Cant

7 of 7

abbreviation

Word History

Etymology

Verb (1)

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

Noun (2) and Verb (2)

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 Celtic origin; akin to Welsh cant rim; perhaps akin to Greek kanthos corner of the eye

Adjective (2)

Middle English, probably from Middle Low German *kant

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1640, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Verb (1)

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Verb (2)

circa 1543, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Noun (2)

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Adjective (1)

1663, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near cant

Cite this Entry

“Cant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cant. Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

cant

1 of 3 noun
1
: a slanting surface
2

cant

2 of 3 verb
: to give a slant to

cant

3 of 3 noun
1
2
: insincere speech

Medical Definition

cant

noun
: an oblique or slanting surface

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