Cant is language repeated so often and so mechanically that it's essentially empty of meaning. Cant can also mean the specialized jargon of a particular group — like the "cant of piracy" (e.g., Ahoy! Lubber! Arrr!).

Possible sources for cant exist in both Irish Gaelic and Latin, and the meanings of both are similar: caint is "speech," while cantare is "to sing." In broader English, the word was first used to mock the singing of monks. As it evolved, cant became the whining of beggars and then the secret language of thieves, and the negative connotations persist in modern usage. As a verb, cant has a completely different meaning: it means to lean or tilt to one side.

Definitions of cant
  1. noun
    a slope in the turn of a road or track; the outside is higher than the inside in order to reduce the effects of centrifugal force
    synonyms: bank, camber
    see moresee less
    type of:
    incline, side, slope
    an elevated geological formation
  2. noun
    two surfaces meeting at an angle different from 90 degrees
    synonyms: bevel, chamfer
    see moresee less
    an outward bevel around a door or window that makes it seem larger
    type of:
    a sharp side formed by the intersection of two surfaces of an object
  3. verb
    heel over
    synonyms: cant over, pitch, slant, tilt
    see moresee less
    tilt or slant to one side
    type of:
    move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion
  4. noun
    a characteristic language of a particular group (as among thieves)
    synonyms: argot, jargon, lingo, patois, slang, vernacular
    see moresee less
    street name
    slang for something (especially for an illegal drug)
    rhyming slang
    slang that replaces words with rhyming words or expressions and then typically omits the rhyming component
    type of:
    non-standard speech
    speech that differs from the usual accepted, easily recognizable speech of native adult members of a speech community
  5. noun
    insincere talk about religion or morals
    synonyms: pious platitude
    see moresee less
    type of:
    talk, talking
    an exchange of ideas via conversation
  6. noun
    stock phrases that have become nonsense through endless repetition
    synonyms: buzzword
    see moresee less
    type of:
    bunk, hokum, meaninglessness, nonsense, nonsensicality
    a message that seems to convey no meaning
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week