Cantor vs canter

Photo of author


Cantor and canter are two words that are spelled and pronounced similarly, but have two different meanings. We will look at the definitions of the words cantor and canter, where they come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A cantor is a man whose job it is to sing and lead the prayers at synagogue. In modern times, a cantor has usually attended a cantorial school and is trained in musicality, he is an ordained member of the Jewish clergy. However, in smaller synagogues a cantor may simply be a man who has an acquired knowledge of the music and prayer used in worship. Women may also be cantors in Reform and Conservative Judaism. The word cantor is also used in Christian worship to designate the person who sings certain passages to which the choir or congregation sings a response. Cantor is derived from the Latin word cantor, which means actor, singer or poet.

A canter is an easy, three-beat gait of a horse that proceeds at a speed somewhere between a trot and a gallop. Canter may be used as a noun or a verb, related words are canters, cantered, cantering. The word canter appears at the beginning of the 1700s as an abbreviation of the term Canterbury gallop, the leisurely speed at which a pilgrim supposedly travels on horseback to the pilgrimage site of Canterbury. In Indian English, a canter is a large, open-air truck, often carrying people.


When Leonard invited us to participate in You Want it Darker, he said that he was “looking for the sound of the Cantor and choir of his youth.” (The Globe & Mail)

“Father John Doherty delivered a lovely mass about Sean and the cantor had a beautiful voice as she sung the hymns; listening to Ave Maria broke my heart.” (The Scottish Daily Record)

When riding a young horse with a good basic canter just ask for a flying change and see what happens. (Horse & Hound Magazine)