Main definitions of cant in English

: cant1cant2

cant1

noun

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

    ‘the liberal case against all censorship is often cant’
    • ‘What pitiable cant to say, ‘She will live forever in my memory!’’
    • ‘Any cant about representing farming is hollow and hypocritical.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Most orthodox historians think that comments like these are mere hypocritical cant.’
    • ‘Conservatism is realistic, honest, consistent, and opposed to cant.’
    • ‘Its satirical swipes at hypocrisy and cant make it a topical work amid the political spin of today.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘No matter how tightly you wrap yourself in the flag the stench of untramelled cant and hypocrisy always emerges.’
    • ‘For cant, humbug and moral spinelessness, this took some beating.’
    • ‘It annoyed Flaubert mightily that purveyors of political cant should be greeted with more ballyhoo than gifted poets.’
    • ‘One feels that there is something healthy in his instinctive ability to cut through cant, including the ‘politically correct’ variety.’
    • ‘Politics and bureaucracy take over, however packaged in pedagogical cant about mentoring.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Maybe it is time to reject cant and hypocrisy, shed this sham of political correctness.’
    • ‘The common factor among the marchers was a rejection of cant, lies and hypocrisy.’
    • ‘He sees it as the paper's duty to expose cant and hypocrisy,’ said the source.’
    • ‘They will be exposed for things called hypocrisy and cant, and they will not get away with it.’
    • ‘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.’
    hypocrisy, sanctimoniousness, sanctimony, humbug, pietism, affected piety, insincerity, sham, lip service, empty talk, pretence
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  • 2Language peculiar to a specified group or profession and regarded with disparagement.

    ‘thieves' cant’
    • ‘The regional intonations, like the period slang and cant and contemporary allusions of the time, are brilliantly captured.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is the essential function of a cliché, and of cant and jargon; to neutralise expression and ‘vanish memory’.’
    • ‘Yet Smith also saw that the roots of ‘this frugality’ ran much deeper than Calvinist cant or even moral rectitude.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One has entered the cant and canon of literary criticism.’
    • ‘Some were familiar with the culture of the London underworld, and thieves' cant became the ‘flash’ language of the barracks and factories.’
    • ‘Postmodern cant has also softened up many intellectuals for the renewed assaults of creationists, now taking form as ‘Intelligent Design Theory.’’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘Pat still gives lessons on the Traveller Language cant.’
    • ‘Fagin, Sykes and Dodger use much more Dickensian language and pepper their sentences with thieves' cant.’
    • ‘Except this time, gibberish is thieves' cant for… well… thieves' cant.’
    • ‘Wellington is changing by the hour: corporations now rule, the cant of the marketplace is all we can find.’
    • ‘The history of various families in Athy, their way of life, religion, superstition, Traveller cures and the Traveller language or cant are all documented.’
    • ‘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.’
    slang, jargon, idiom, argot, patter, patois, vernacular, speech, terminology, language
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    1. 2.1as modifier Denoting a phrase or catchword temporarily current or in fashion.
      ‘they are misrepresented as, in the cant word of our day, uncaring’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In literary conversations, he is only capable of repeating cant phrases and dropping names.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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,’
    • ‘They have tried upon me all their various batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering.’
    • ‘After failing in a defamation case against the West Australian newspaper - which called him a ‘lying, canting humbug’ - he left Western Australia in disgrace.’
    • ‘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.’

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

/kænt//kant/

Main definitions of cant in English

: cant1cant2

cant2

verb

[with object]
  • 1Cause (something) to be in a slanting or oblique position; tilt.

    ‘he canted his head to look at the screen’
    • ‘Hand-made of fine leather and trimmed in exotic alligator, the holster can be positioned straight, or canted forward for even more versatility.’
    • ‘The wreck here is open above, with the remains of the engine canted to port.’
    • ‘Tom suddenly slid out from beneath Aligore, skimming on his back across the canted deck.’
    • ‘Mistaking it for swelling ardour, he cants his hips in just the wrong way again.’
    • ‘When Melissa canted her head to slant away the strand of straight blond hair, my eyes focused on her lips.’
    • ‘She leaned against the bulkhead canting her head with a sigh.’
    • ‘With its canted fairways framed by windswept dunes, Spanish Bay is a tribute to Scottish golf.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Because of the angle, we were canted back in our seats rather like being in an aircraft when it makes a steep ascent.’
    • ‘My chest hurts and my body feels canted at the wrong angle.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It has bulging ‘eyes,’ gaunt looking wings, and triple vertical stabilizers - the two outermost canted inward.’
    • ‘The stern is intact, though canted over to lie on its starboard side, like the rest of the wreck.’
    tilt, lean, slant, slope, incline, angle, be at an angle
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    1. 1.1no object Take or have a slanting position.
      ‘mismatched slate roofs canted at all angles’
      • ‘Its smallish greens slant and cant at aggravating angles.’
      tilt, lean, slant, slope, incline, angle, be at an angle
      View synonyms

noun

  • 1in singular A slope or tilt.

    ‘the outward cant of the curving walls’
    • ‘Quite a bit, but either the cant or the pitch or the structure curiously muted it.’
    • ‘The three components of alignment are horizontal, vertical and cant, regardless of the typical cross sections encountered.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 filter states include displacements from the nominal track, the cant, and the track gauge.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The forward mast has a noticeable cant aft.’
    • ‘It had a different cant to it, this time, and her eyes were narrowed.’
    • ‘The LP can be ordered for either autos or revolvers, with a straight drop or a slight cant.’
    • ‘The model 05 Equalizer is a belt mounted speed rig with a near-vertical cant.’
    • ‘The yacht lay alongside the pier at a sharp cant, its left side decks awash with water.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A holster that really fit the gun, and with just the right cant for my beat-to-death shoulders to deal with.’
    • ‘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.’
    slope, slant, tilt, angle, inclination
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  • 2A wedge-shaped block of wood, especially one remaining after the better-quality pieces have been cut off.

    • ‘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

/kænt//kant/