Ask Difference

Cant vs. Tilt — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Fiza Rafique — Updated on April 4, 2024
Cant refers to an angle or slant from the vertical or horizontal, often used in structural contexts, while tilt implies a leaning or incline, typically suggesting movement or adjustment.
Cant vs. Tilt — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Cant and Tilt

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Key Differences

Cant is often used to describe a fixed or inherent angle, particularly in architecture or design, such as the cant of a roof or roadway, indicating a purposeful slant for drainage or stability. Tilt, on the other hand, usually refers to an action or condition where an object is moved from its original axis, implying a dynamic or temporary state, like tilting a picture frame for a better view.
In engineering and construction, cant might refer to the deliberate angling of elements to achieve certain structural or aesthetic objectives, emphasizing a planned and permanent feature. Tilt, however, suggests a deviation from the standard or expected alignment, often used in contexts where adjustment or correction is possible or necessary.
Cant can also imply a bias or viewpoint, particularly in discussions or narratives, hinting at a figurative 'leaning' towards one side of an argument. Whereas tilt is more commonly associated with physical objects or spaces, focusing on the literal act of inclining or the state of being inclined.
The terminology around cant is specific to certain fields, such as railway engineering, where it describes the angling of rails to facilitate safer and faster train movement through curves. Tilt, conversely, finds broader application in everyday language, describing everything from the slight adjustment of a lamp to the precarious lean of a tree in the wind.
Despite these differences, both terms highlight an alteration from the norm—cant as a designed or inherent feature, and tilt as a condition or action suggesting movement away from a baseline alignment.
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Comparison Chart

Definition

An angle or slant from the vertical or horizontal, often purposeful.
A leaning or incline, typically suggesting movement or adjustment.

Usage Context

Architecture, engineering, design.
General use, including physical objects and spatial orientation.

Implies

A fixed, deliberate angle for a specific purpose.
A dynamic or adjustable leaning or incline.

Common Examples

The cant of a roadway for drainage.
Tilting a screen for a better viewing angle.

Figurative Use

Bias or slant in narrative or argument.
Not commonly used in a figurative sense.

Compare with Definitions

Cant

A fixed angle incorporated into a structure or design.
The cant of the roof ensures efficient water runoff.

Tilt

The act of leaning or inclining an object or surface.
He tilted his chair back, relaxing into a comfortable position.

Cant

Specific terminology in certain fields, like the angling of train tracks.
The railway employs a cant to facilitate faster train speeds on curves.

Tilt

Often associated with mechanisms or features allowing adjustment.
The camera's tilt feature helps capture better angles.

Cant

Figuratively, implies a particular bias or viewpoint.
The cant in her articles makes them distinctly pro-environment.

Tilt

A temporary or adjustable angle away from the vertical or horizontal.
The tilt of her monitor reduced the glare from the window.

Cant

A bias or slant in perspective or argument.
His speech had a political cant, leaning noticeably to the left.

Tilt

Physical orientation implying movement or adjustment.
A slight tilt of the head can convey a lot of meaning.

Cant

Used to describe a tilted or slanted position in static objects.
The bookshelf had a slight cant, indicating it wasn't level.

Tilt

Describes a condition of imbalance or deviation.
The uneven ground caused the table to tilt.

Cant

Angular deviation from a vertical or horizontal plane or surface; an inclination or slope.

Tilt

Move or cause to move into a sloping position
The floor tilted slightly
He tilted his head to one side

Cant

A slanted or oblique surface.

Tilt

(in jousting) thrust at with a lance or other weapon
The lonely hero tilting at the system
He tilts at his prey

Cant

A thrust or motion that tilts something.

Tilt

A sloping position or movement
The tilt of her head

Cant

The tilt caused by such a thrust or motion.

Tilt

A combat for exercise or sport between two men on horseback with lances; a joust.

Cant

An outer corner, as of a building.

Tilt

A small hut in a forest.

Cant

Tedious or hackneyed language, especially when used sanctimoniously
"a merciless onslaught upon the cant of the age, the cant about progress, equality, [and] universal education" (C. Vann Woodward).

Tilt

To cause to slope, as by raising one end; incline
Tilt a soup bowl.
Tilt a chair backward.

Cant

The special vocabulary peculiar to the members of an underworld group; argot.

Tilt

To cause to be advantageous to one party rather than another
A development that tilted the balance of trade in their favor.

Cant

The special vocabulary of a profession, discipline, or social group; jargon.

Tilt

To aim or thrust (a lance) in a joust.

Cant

Cant See Shelta.

Tilt

To charge (an opponent); attack.

Cant

Whining or singsong speech, such as that used by beggars.

Tilt

To forge with a tilt hammer.

Cant

To set at an oblique angle; tilt.

Tilt

To slope; incline
The field tilts toward the river.

Cant

To give a slanting edge to; bevel.

Tilt

To have a preference, favor, or be inclined toward something
She recently tilted toward vegetarianism.

Cant

To change the direction of suddenly.

Tilt

To be advantageous to one side over another, as in a dispute
"The battle ... was beginning to tilt again in the Confederates' favor" (Stephen W. Sears).

Cant

To lean to one side; slant.

Tilt

To fight with lances; joust.

Cant

To take an oblique direction or course; swing around, as a ship.

Tilt

To engage in a combat or struggle; fight
Tilting at injustices.

Cant

To speak tediously or sanctimoniously.

Tilt

To cover (a vehicle) with a canopy or an awning.

Cant

To speak in argot or jargon.

Tilt

The act of tilting or the condition of being tilted.

Cant

To speak in a whining or singsong voice.

Tilt

An inclination from the horizontal or vertical; a slant
Adjusting the tilt of a writing table.

Cant

(countable) An argot, the jargon of a particular class or subgroup.
He had the look of a prince, but the cant of a fishmonger.

Tilt

A sloping surface, as of the ground.

Cant

A private or secret language used by a religious sect, gang, or other group.

Tilt

A tendency to favor one side in a dispute
The court's tilt toward conservative rulings.

Cant

A language spoken by some Irish Travellers; Shelta.

Tilt

A preference, inclination, or bias
"pitilessly illuminates the inaccuracies and tilts of the press" (Nat Hentoff).

Cant

Empty, hypocritical talk.

Tilt

A medieval sport in which two mounted knights with lances charged together and attempted to unhorse one another.

Cant

(uncountable) Whining speech, such as that used by beggars.

Tilt

A thrust or blow with a lance.

Cant

A blazon of a coat of arms that makes a pun upon the name (or, less often, some attribute or function) of the bearer, canting arms.

Tilt

A combat, especially a verbal one; a debate.

Cant

(obsolete) A call for bidders at a public fair; an auction.

Tilt

A tilt hammer.

Cant

(obsolete) Side, edge, corner, niche.
Under the cant of a hill.

Tilt

New England See seesaw.

Cant

Slope, the angle at which something is set.

Tilt

A canopy or an awning for a boat, wagon, or cart.

Cant

A corner (of a building).

Tilt

(transitive) To slope or incline (something); to slant.
Tilt the barrel to pour out its contents.

Cant

An outer or external angle.

Tilt

(intransitive) To be at an angle.

Cant

An inclination from a horizontal or vertical line; a slope or bevel; a tilt.

Tilt

To charge (at someone) with a lance.

Cant

A movement or throw that overturns something.

Tilt

(transitive) To point or thrust a weapon at.

Cant

A sudden thrust, push, kick, or other impulse, producing a bias or change of direction; also, the bias or turn so given.
To give a ball a cant

Tilt

(transitive) To point or thrust (a weapon).

Cant

(coopering) A segment forming a side piece in the head of a cask.

Tilt

To forge (something) with a tilt hammer.
To tilt steel in order to render it more ductile

Cant

A segment of the rim of a wooden cogwheel.

Tilt

To intentionally let the ball fall down to the drain by disabling flippers and most targets, done as a punishment to the player when the machine is nudged too violently or frequently.

Cant

(nautical) A piece of wood laid upon the deck of a vessel to support the bulkheads.

Tilt

To play worse than usual (often as a result of previous bad luck or losses).

Cant

(lumbering) An unfinished log after preliminary cutting.

Tilt

(transitive) To cover with a tilt, or awning.

Cant

A parcel, a division.

Tilt

A slope or inclination.

Cant

(intransitive) To speak with the jargon of a class or subgroup.

Tilt

The inclination of part of the body, such as backbone, pelvis, head, etc.

Cant

(intransitive) To speak in set phrases.

Tilt

(photography) The controlled vertical movement of a camera, or a device to achieve this.

Cant

(intransitive) To talk, beg, or preach in a singsong or whining fashion, especially in a false or empty manner.

Tilt

A jousting contest. (countable)

Cant

Of a blazon, to make a pun that references the bearer of a coat of arms.

Tilt

An attempt at something, such as a tilt at public office.

Cant

(obsolete) To sell by auction, or bid at an auction.

Tilt

A thrust, as with a lance.

Cant

(transitive) To set (something) at an angle.
To cant a cask; to cant a ship

Tilt

A tilt hammer.

Cant

(transitive) To give a sudden turn or new direction to.
To cant round a stick of timber; to cant a football

Tilt

A canvas covering for carts, boats, etc.

Cant

(transitive) To bevel an edge or corner.

Tilt

Any covering overhead; especially, a tent.

Cant

(transitive) To overturn so that the contents are emptied.

Tilt

A covering overhead; especially, a tent.

Cant

To divide or parcel out.

Tilt

The cloth covering of a cart or a wagon.

Cant

Lively, lusty.

Tilt

A cloth cover of a boat; a small canopy or awning extended over the sternsheets of a boat.

Cant

A corner; angle; niche.
The first and principal person in the temple was Irene, or Peace; she was placed aloft in a cant.

Tilt

A thrust, as with a lance.

Cant

An outer or external angle.

Tilt

A military exercise on horseback, in which the combatants attacked each other with lances; a tournament.

Cant

An inclination from a horizontal or vertical line; a slope or bevel; a titl.

Tilt

See Tilt hammer, in the Vocabulary.

Cant

A sudden thrust, push, kick, or other impulse, producing a bias or change of direction; also, the bias or turn so give; as, to give a ball a cant.

Tilt

Inclination forward; as, the tilt of a cask.

Cant

A segment forming a side piece in the head of a cask.

Tilt

To cover with a tilt, or awning.

Cant

A segment of he rim of a wooden cogwheel.

Tilt

To incline; to tip; to raise one end of for discharging liquor; as, to tilt a barrel.

Cant

A piece of wood laid upon the deck of a vessel to support the bulkheads.

Tilt

To point or thrust, as a lance.
Sons against fathers tilt the fatal lance.

Cant

An affected, singsong mode of speaking.

Tilt

To point or thrust a weapon at.

Cant

The idioms and peculiarities of speech in any sect, class, or occupation.
The cant of any profession.

Tilt

To hammer or forge with a tilt hammer; as, to tilt steel in order to render it more ductile.

Cant

The use of religious phraseology without understanding or sincerity; empty, solemn speech, implying what is not felt; hypocrisy.
They shall hear no cant from me.

Tilt

To run or ride, and thrust with a lance; to practice the military game or exercise of thrusting with a lance, as a combatant on horseback; to joust; also, figuratively, to engage in any combat or movement resembling that of horsemen tilting with lances.
He tiltsWith piercing steel at bold Mercutio's breast.
Swords out, and tilting one at other's breast.
But in this tournament can no man tilt.
The fleet, swift tilting, o'er the urges flew.

Cant

Vulgar jargon; slang; the secret language spoker by gipsies, thieves, tramps, or beggars.

Tilt

To lean; to fall partly over; to tip.
The trunk of the body is kept from tilting forward by the muscles of the back.

Cant

A call for bidders at a public sale; an auction.

Tilt

A combat between two mounted knights tilting against each other with blunted lances

Cant

To incline; to set at an angle; to tilt over; to tip upon the edge; as, to cant a cask; to cant a ship.

Tilt

A contentious speech act; a dispute where there is strong disagreement;
They were involved in a violent argument

Cant

To give a sudden turn or new direction to; as, to cant round a stick of timber; to cant a football.

Tilt

A slight but noticeable partiality;
The court's tilt toward conservative rulings

Cant

To cut off an angle from, as from a square piece of timber, or from the head of a bolt.

Tilt

The property possessed by a line or surface that departs from the vertical;
The tower had a pronounced tilt
The ship developed a list to starboard
He walked with a heavy inclination to the right

Cant

To speak in a whining voice, or an affected, singsong tone.

Tilt

Pitching dangerously to one side

Cant

To make whining pretensions to goodness; to talk with an affectation of religion, philanthropy, etc.; to practice hypocrisy; as, a canting fanatic.
The rankest rogue that ever canted.

Tilt

To incline or bend from a vertical position;
She leaned over the banister

Cant

To use pretentious language, barbarous jargon, or technical terms; to talk with an affectation of learning.
The doctor here,When he discourseth of dissection,Of vena cava and of vena porta,The meseræum and the mesentericum,What does he else but cant.
That uncouth affected garb of speech, or canting language, if I may so call it.

Tilt

Heel over;
The tower is tilting
The ceiling is slanting

Cant

To sell by auction, or bid a price at a sale by auction.

Tilt

Move sideways or in an unsteady way;
The ship careened out of control

Cant

Of the nature of cant; affected; vulgar.
To introduce and multiply cant words in the most ruinous corruption in any language.

Tilt

Charge with a tilt

Cant

Stock phrases that have become nonsense through endless repetition

Cant

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

Cant

A characteristic language of a particular group (as among thieves);
They don't speak our lingo

Cant

Insincere talk about religion or morals

Cant

Two surfaces meeting at an angle different from 90 degrees

Cant

Heel over;
The tower is tilting
The ceiling is slanting

Common Curiosities

Is cant always intentional?

In architecture and engineering, cant is typically intentional. However, in a broader sense, it can also indicate an unintentional slant or bias.

Can cant be used to describe temporary angles?

While cant usually describes a fixed angle, it can occasionally refer to a temporary situation, especially in the context of bias or perspective.

What causes cant in a structure?

Cant is usually designed into a structure for functional or aesthetic reasons, such as ensuring stability or facilitating drainage.

Can tilt be corrected in objects?

Yes, tilt often suggests a condition that can be adjusted or corrected, depending on the context and the object involved.

What is the difference between tilting something and giving it a cant?

Tilting something usually refers to an action causing a temporary lean or angle, whereas giving something a cant involves designing or positioning it with a fixed angle.

How do cant and tilt influence aesthetic perception?

Both can influence aesthetic perception by altering lines, shapes, and the balance of a composition, though cant often does so in a more deliberate and permanent way.

How does tilt affect visual perception?

Tilt can change the viewer's perspective, potentially altering the perceived dimensions or orientation of an object or scene.

Is there a tool to measure cant or tilt?

Yes, tools like inclinometers or levels can measure the degree of cant or tilt in structures or objects.

How does cant impact functionality in design?

Cant can enhance functionality by improving elements like drainage, stability, or speed, depending on the application.

Can both cant and tilt be observed in natural landscapes?

Naturally occurring slopes or inclines might be described using both terms, but cant is less commonly used in natural contexts.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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