Main definitions of cant in English

: cant1cant2

cant1

noun

  • 1Hypocritical and sanctimonious talk, typically of a moral, religious, or political nature.

    ‘he had no time for the cant of the priests about sin’
    • ‘Politics and bureaucracy take over, however packaged in pedagogical cant about mentoring.’
    • ‘That embarrassment reminds you that Le Carré's Cold War-era novels were so good precisely because they were devoid of cant and moral sloganeering.’
    • ‘It annoyed Flaubert mightily that purveyors of political cant should be greeted with more ballyhoo than gifted poets.’
    • ‘Their hypocrisy, their cant and their lies are nailed to the wall and flayed with such devastating honesty and accuracy that one wonders how anyone could ever dare to be associated with their names again.’
    • ‘Bloom, a pugnacious professor, says that he reads to clear his mind of cant and for self-improvement, not to influence others, which seems somewhat disingenuous given the subject of his book.’
    • ‘One feels that there is something healthy in his instinctive ability to cut through cant, including the ‘politically correct’ variety.’
    • ‘For cant, humbug and moral spinelessness, this took some beating.’
    • ‘In the purest form, realism holds that ideology has little impact on state behaviour but is rather a cloak to disguise the pursuit of real interests in the cant of religious or secular philosophy or rhetoric.’
    • ‘Maybe it is time to reject cant and hypocrisy, shed this sham of political correctness.’
    • ‘Its satirical swipes at hypocrisy and cant make it a topical work amid the political spin of today.’
    • ‘Any cant about representing farming is hollow and hypocritical.’
    • ‘Most orthodox historians think that comments like these are mere hypocritical cant.’
    • ‘No matter how tightly you wrap yourself in the flag the stench of untramelled cant and hypocrisy always emerges.’
    • ‘He sees it as the paper's duty to expose cant and hypocrisy,’ said the source.’
    • ‘Conservatism is realistic, honest, consistent, and opposed to cant.’
    • ‘What pitiable cant to say, ‘She will live forever in my memory!’’
    • ‘They will be exposed for things called hypocrisy and cant, and they will not get away with it.’
    • ‘The common factor among the marchers was a rejection of cant, lies and hypocrisy.’
    • ‘Yet the forthright honesty and steely lucidity of his voice in these interviews, his impatience with cant and pious waffle, also bear witness to the virtues of that rationality.’
    • ‘While the Irish government generates a lot of noisy, self-righteous cant about the evils of cigarettes at home, it makes a pretty packet from ‘selling death’ abroad.’
    hypocrisy, sanctimoniousness, sanctimony, humbug, pietism, affected piety, insincerity, sham, lip service, empty talk, pretence
    View synonyms
  • 2Language specific to a particular group or profession and regarded with disparagement.

    ‘thieves' cant’
    • ‘Yet Smith also saw that the roots of ‘this frugality’ ran much deeper than Calvinist cant or even moral rectitude.’
    • ‘The history of various families in Athy, their way of life, religion, superstition, Traveller cures and the Traveller language or cant are all documented.’
    • ‘Fagin, Sykes and Dodger use much more Dickensian language and pepper their sentences with thieves' cant.’
    • ‘The regional intonations, like the period slang and cant and contemporary allusions of the time, are brilliantly captured.’
    • ‘Except this time, gibberish is thieves' cant for… well… thieves' cant.’
    • ‘Postmodern cant has also softened up many intellectuals for the renewed assaults of creationists, now taking form as ‘Intelligent Design Theory.’’
    • ‘Otherwise his book is refreshingly free of theoretical cant or jargon, despite some nostalgia for a Marxist perspective and a deference to critics like Lukacs.’
    • ‘Many words in English have obscure origins, particularly those which may be said to have risen in the world from lowly origins in argot, cant or slang.’
    • ‘One has entered the cant and canon of literary criticism.’
    • ‘This was not a constructed language, but a secret vocabulary, a cant or argot in the linguist's term, which uses the grammar and syntax of English as well as most of its core vocabulary.’
    • ‘This is the essential function of a cliché, and of cant and jargon; to neutralise expression and ‘vanish memory’.’
    • ‘‘We only want to ensure that potential reviewers of our software have the most current version’ is an approximation of the cant prepared for the job.’
    • ‘Wellington is changing by the hour: corporations now rule, the cant of the marketplace is all we can find.’
    • ‘Pat still gives lessons on the Traveller Language cant.’
    • ‘Some were familiar with the culture of the London underworld, and thieves' cant became the ‘flash’ language of the barracks and factories.’
    slang, jargon, idiom, argot, patter, patois, vernacular, speech, terminology, language
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[as modifier]Denoting a phrase or catchword temporarily current or in fashion.
      ‘‘herstories’ rather than ‘histories’ as the cant phrase goes’
      • ‘The Subla Centre is named after the traveller gammon or cant word for young unattached male and was set up to address the chronic lack of training and education opportunities available to these teenagers.’
      • ‘In literary conversations, he is only capable of repeating cant phrases and dropping names.’
      • ‘There is, to be sure, room for adjustment to the GST tax base, most of which should take the form of ‘rollback’, to adopt the cant phrase of the day.’
      • ‘Such poets as these, and Lowell especially, gave rise to the critics' cant phrase, ‘confessional poetry’, which is seriously unhelpful.’

verb

[NO OBJECT]dated
  • Talk hypocritically and sanctimoniously about something.

    ‘if they'd stop canting about ‘honest work’ they might get somewhere’
    • ‘Imitating the canting voice of a hypocritical preacher, Douglass then gave a several-paragraph sermon based on the principle that obedience to the slavemaster is obedience to God.’
    • ‘After failing in a defamation case against the West Australian newspaper - which called him a ‘lying, canting humbug’ - he left Western Australia in disgrace.’
    • ‘For someone who's worked in the media for 10 years, the idea that illicit passion is not part of that is such nonsense that I think maybe it's time some of the canting stopped.’
    • ‘They have tried upon me all their various batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering.’
    • ‘Such acts are incompatible with high office. I'm therefore writing to you to request that you do all you can to ensure that this disgrace steps down and shuts up forever, as whatever he has to say can only be the vilest canting hypocrisy,’

Origin

Early 16th century: probably from Latin cantare to sing (see chant). The early meaning was ‘musical sound, singing’; in the mid 17th century this gave rise to the senses ‘whining manner of speaking’ and ‘form of words repeated mechanically in such a manner’ (for example a beggar's plea), hence ‘jargon’ (of beggars and other such groups).

Pronunciation:

cant

/kant/

Main definitions of cant in English

: cant1cant2

cant2

verb

  • 1Have or cause to have a slanting or oblique position; tilt.

    [with object] ‘he canted his head to look at the screen’
    [no object] ‘mismatched slate roofs canted at all angles’
    • ‘In fact, it's not unusual to see a woman wearing high heels to make herself look taller, while canting her head to one side to make herself look shorter.’
    • ‘But it does take me a while to work out that the canted pillars with cups on top and pistons on the side are depth-charge catapults.’
    • ‘Although some of the details might not be sophisticated enough for Soane, it is difficult to imagine that the form of the space with its canted walls was not directly influenced by him.’
    • ‘Hand-made of fine leather and trimmed in exotic alligator, the holster can be positioned straight, or canted forward for even more versatility.’
    • ‘She leaned against the bulkhead canting her head with a sigh.’
    • ‘I agree that there is probably too much tertiary education, and/or that education is canted towards academic subjects which already have too many graduates rather than practical or vocational skills.’
    • ‘Tom suddenly slid out from beneath Aligore, skimming on his back across the canted deck.’
    • ‘If you are right-handed, the arrow is on the right side of the bow, and if left - handed, on the left side. The bow is generally slightly canted to the arrow side.’
    • ‘When Melissa canted her head to slant away the strand of straight blond hair, my eyes focused on her lips.’
    • ‘My chest hurts and my body feels canted at the wrong angle.’
    • ‘With its canted fairways framed by windswept dunes, Spanish Bay is a tribute to Scottish golf.’
    • ‘Because of the way it is constructed, the socket on a goosewing axe can rather easily be slanted, or canted away from the plane of the blade by the blacksmith.’
    • ‘In order to grant the west front of the Campus Center a respectable height, Koolhaas canted the roof to accommodate the tube, leaving a roughly V-shaped south elevation.’
    • ‘This holster can also be canted from a vertical position to a grip-forward or muzzle-forward position.’
    • ‘Because of the angle, we were canted back in our seats rather like being in an aircraft when it makes a steep ascent.’
    • ‘The stern is intact, though canted over to lie on its starboard side, like the rest of the wreck.’
    • ‘Mistaking it for swelling ardour, he cants his hips in just the wrong way again.’
    • ‘The wreck here is open above, with the remains of the engine canted to port.’
    • ‘It has bulging ‘eyes,’ gaunt looking wings, and triple vertical stabilizers - the two outermost canted inward.’
    • ‘He was a man above middle-age, with a sharp and wizened face, and he held his head canted so that he seemed to be ear-first as he faced you.’
    tilt, lean, slant, slope, incline, angle, be at an angle
    tip, list, bank, heel
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[no object](of a ship) swing round.
      ‘the ship canted to starboard’
      • ‘Just then, the entire vessel canted to one side, as if thrown there by some unimaginable force.’
      • ‘The extension of the canting space at deepwater berths to provide for vessels up to 450 feet long is at present in hand.’
      • ‘The ship canted and slipped to one side, tables and chairs going flying with an awful crash as the floor undulated like a sea and tried to become one with the wall.’
      • ‘The problem, again, is the ship is canted over at such an angle, they may not even be able to use their escape trunks because, you know, because the degree to which the ship is tilted prevents the hatches from opening.’
      • ‘The ship canted, slipping from its high and imperious plane as three missiles slammed into the armour, their icy casings erupting into a sundering coldfire ball that burned in the craters.’

noun

  • 1[in singular] A slope or tilt.

    ‘the outward cant of the curving walls’
    • ‘It had a different cant to it, this time, and her eyes were narrowed.’
    • ‘In his view the problem was caused by the cant not being placed so as to abut the vertical inside wall of the parapet, thus allowing a space between the vertical surface of the cant and the vertical inside surface of the parapet.’
    • ‘Quite a bit, but either the cant or the pitch or the structure curiously muted it.’
    • ‘He noticed the grim, tight set of the older man's mouth, the hangdog cant of the younger's head, and Black fidgeting nervously beside.’
    • ‘You can adjust the cant to your preference for strong side carry, or set the rig up for cross draw if you're working out of a car for long periods.’
    • ‘The model 05 Equalizer is a belt mounted speed rig with a near-vertical cant.’
    • ‘The filter states include displacements from the nominal track, the cant, and the track gauge.’
    • ‘The forward mast has a noticeable cant aft.’
    • ‘A holster that really fit the gun, and with just the right cant for my beat-to-death shoulders to deal with.’
    • ‘Then you can reconfigure the mag carrier to a straight vertical or drop-down pull and adjust the holster to a slight cant or straight draw angle for a day at the range or concealed carry.’
    • ‘The LP can be ordered for either autos or revolvers, with a straight drop or a slight cant.’
    • ‘Or it can be as subtle as a paper cut, like the approach shot at 18, where the cant of the fairway encourages a pull into the river.’
    • ‘But it was the cant of their heads and the look on their faces that told Mugolo all he needed to know about these men.’
    • ‘The intruder made no movement save a slight cant of its cowled head as Tristen drew a heavy metal blade from behind the headboard of his massive bed.’
    • ‘The three components of alignment are horizontal, vertical and cant, regardless of the typical cross sections encountered.’
    • ‘The yacht lay alongside the pier at a sharp cant, its left side decks awash with water.’
    slope, slant, tilt, angle, inclination
    View synonyms
  • 2A wedge-shaped block of wood, especially one remaining after the better-quality pieces have been cut off.

    ‘a squared-off cant remains, containing the knottiest wood’
    • ‘Yet, MB did not know even the basic dimensions of wood used in Japanese house construction and was opposed by the sogo shosha it had relied on to export its cants.’
    • ‘Because the Micromill SLP5000D is self-reliant it can be set up in remote locations including new burn areas to process small logs into cants and dimension lumber.’

Origin

Middle English (denoting an edge or brink): from Middle Low German kant, kante, Middle Dutch cant point, side, edge, based on a Romance word related to medieval Latin cantus corner, side.

Pronunciation:

cant

/kant/