Cant vs Dialect - What's the difference?

cant | dialect |

As nouns the difference between cant and dialect

is that cant is , a hundred while dialect is (linguistics) a variety of a language (specifically, often a spoken variety) that is characteristic of a particular area, community or group, often with relatively minor differences in vocabulary, style, spelling and pronunciation.



Etymology 1

From (etyl) , cognate with chant.


  • (countable) An argot, the jargon of a particular class or subgroup.
  • He had the look of a prince, but the cant of a fishmonger.
  • * 1836 , Three discourses preached before the Congregational Society in Watertown, page 65
  • I am aware that the phrase free inquiry has become too much a cant phrase soiled by the handling of the ignorant and the reckless by those who fall into the mistake of supposing that religion has its root in the understanding and by those who can see just far enough to doubt and no further.
  • (countable, uncountable) A private or secret language used by a religious sect, gang, or other group.
  • Shelta.
  • (uncountable, pejorative) Empty, hypocritical talk.
  • People claim to care about the poor of Africa, but it is largely cant .
  • * 1749 , , Book IV ch iv
  • He is too well grounded for all your philosophical cant to hurt.
  • * 1759-1770 ,
  • Of all the cants' which are canted in this canting world — though the '''cant''' of hypocrites may be the worst — the ' cant of criticism is the most tormenting!
  • (uncountable) Whining speech, such as that used by beggars.
  • (countable, heraldry) A blazon of a coat of arms that makes a pun upon the name of the bearer, canting arms.
  • (obsolete) A call for bidders at a public fair; an auction.
  • * Jonathan Swift
  • To sell their leases by cant .
    * (private or secret language) argot, jargon, slang * (musical singing) chant, singsong


    (en verb)
  • To speak with the jargon of a class or subgroup.
  • * Ben Jonson
  • The doctor here, / When he discourseth of dissection, / Of vena cava and of vena porta, / The meseraeum and the mesentericum, / What does he else but cant ?
  • * Bishop Sanderson
  • that uncouth affected garb of speech, or canting language, if I may so call it
  • To speak in set phrases.
  • To preach in a singsong fashion, especially in a false or empty manner.
  • * Beaumont and Fletcher
  • the rankest rogue that ever canted
  • (heraldry) Of a blazon, to make a pun that references the bearer of a coat of arms.
  • (obsolete) To sell by auction, or bid at an auction.
  • (Jonathan Swift)
    (Webster 1913)

    Etymology 2


    (en noun)
  • (obsolete) corner, niche
  • * Ben Jonson
  • The first and principal person in the temple was Irene, or Peace; she was placed aloft in a cant .
  • slope, the angle at which something is set.
  • *
  • Owing to the cant of the vessel, the masts hung far out over the water, and from my perch on the cross-trees I had nothing below me but the surface of the bay.
  • An outer or external angle.
  • An inclination from a horizontal or vertical line; a slope or bevel; a tilt.
  • (Totten)
  • A movement or throw that overturns something.
  • * 1830 , The Edinburgh Encyclopedia, volume 3, page 621
  • It is not only of great service in keeping the boat in her due position on the sea, but also in creating a tendency immediately to recover from any sudden cant , or lurch, from a heavy wave; and it is besides beneficial in diminishing the violence of beating against the sides of the vessel which she may go to relieve.
  • A sudden thrust, push, kick, or other impulse, producing a bias or change of direction; also, the bias or turn so give.
  • to give a ball a cant
  • (coopering) A segment forming a side piece in the head of a cask.
  • (Knight)
  • A segment of the rim of a wooden cogwheel.
  • (Knight)
  • (nautical) A piece of wood laid upon the deck of a vessel to support the bulkheads.
  • Verb

    (en verb)
  • To set (something) at an angle.
  • to cant''' a cask; to '''cant a ship
  • To give a sudden turn or new direction to.
  • to cant''' round a stick of timber; to '''cant a football
  • To bevel an edge or corner.
  • To overturn so that the contents are emptied.
  • Etymology 3


    (en verb)
  • To divide or parcel out.
  • Etymology 4

    From (etyl), presumably from (etyl) *

    Alternative forms

    * kant


  • (British, dialect) lively, lusty.
  • Anagrams

    * ----



    (en noun)
  • (linguistics) A variety of a language (specifically, often a spoken variety) that is characteristic of a particular area, community or group, often with relatively minor differences in vocabulary, style, spelling and pronunciation.
  • * A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.
  • *
  • And in addition, many dialects of English make no morphological distinction between Adjectives and Adverbs, and thus use Adjectives in contexts where the standard language requires -ly'' Adverbs: compare
    (81) (a)      Tex talks ''really quickly'' [Adverb + Adverb]
            (b)   %Tex talks ''real quick
    [Adjective + Adjective]
  • A dialect of a language perceived as substandard and wrong.
  • * 1967 , Roger W. Shuy, Discovering American dialects , National Council of Teachers of English, page 1:
  • Many even deny it and say something like this: "No, we don't speak a dialect around here. [...]
  • * 1975 , Linguistic perspectives on black English , H. Carl, page 219:
  • Well, those children don't speak dialect , not in this school. Maybe in the public schools, but not here.
  • * 1994 , H. Nigel Thomas, Spirits in the dark , Heinemann, page 11:
  • [...] on the second day, Miss Anderson gave the school a lecture on why it was wrong to speak dialect'. She had ended by saying "Respectable people don't speak ' dialect ."
  • A language.
  • A variant of a non-standardized programming language.
  • Home computers in the 1980s had many incompatible dialects of BASIC.

    Usage notes

    * The difference between a language and a dialect is not always clear, but it is generally considered that people who speak different dialects can understand each other, while people who speak different languages cannot. Compare species in the biological sense.

    Derived terms

    * dialectal * dialectic

    See also

    * dialogue * ethnolect * idiolect * sociolect


    * ----