can·​tor ˈkan-tər How to pronounce cantor (audio)
: a choir leader : precentor
: a synagogue official who sings or chants liturgical music and leads the congregation in prayer
cantorial adjective

Did you know?

The cantor is, after the rabbi, the most important figure in a Jewish worship service. A cantor not only must possess an excellent singing voice but also must know by heart long passages of Hebrew. Cantors such as Jan Peerce and Richard Tucker became international opera stars. The comedian and singer Edward Israel Iskowitz renamed himself Eddie Cantor for his original profession and became enormously popular on stage, screen, radio, and television for over 40 years.

Examples of cantor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Last Sunday, Rabbi Sam Spector of Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City interrupted the cantor to evacuate the synagogue after receiving a bomb threat. Catherine Herridge, CBS News, 12 Oct. 2023 How many rabbis, cantors and educators have been tempted to do precisely that? Rabbi Rebecca wants to hold kids to the synagogue’s educational standards. The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Sep. 2023 During the small wedding ceremony, a cantor performed the sheva brachot — the seven blessings — and Mohamed’s brother read a passage in Arabic from the Quran. Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times, 14 Oct. 2023 Father Alan was a World War II Navy veteran, the 93-year-old former manager of the Utah abbey farm, and cantor of the monk choir. The Salt Lake Tribune, 11 July 2023 He was inspired to study brit milah by his grandfather Isadore Jacobs, who was a mohel and also a rabbi, a cantor, a dayan (a religious judge) and a shochet (a ritual slaughterer). Sam Roberts, New York Times, 15 Aug. 2023 Recordings of the cantor, and of an ecstatic congregation, lead the ascent through dance and prayer, the orchestra entering into its own jumpy or sorrowful klezmer-like riffs. Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2022 For many years, Mr. Shannon served as the school’s graduation cantor at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. Baltimore Sun, 4 Sep. 2022 Parish Hall, 7 p.m. with cantor in St. James Church, 8 p.m. in Spanish at St. Leo Mission, 936 Genevieve St., and 9 p.m. with adult choir at St. James Church. Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Dec. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cantor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, singer, from canere to sing

First Known Use

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cantor was in 1538

Dictionary Entries Near cantor

Cite this Entry

“Cantor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


can·​tor ˈkant-ər How to pronounce cantor (audio)
: a choir leader
: a synagogue official who sings or chants religious music and leads the congregation in prayer

from Latin cantor "singer," from canere "to sing" — related to cantata, chant, chantey

More from Merriam-Webster on cantor

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!