Language & Speech

Anonymous, The scheming triumvirate, 1760, Etching, © The Trustees of the British Museum. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


In the eighteenth century, ‘cant’ was a word widely used in controversies to disqualify the opponent's language and rhetoric. It first referred to the secret language of thieves but then was used to criticise an excessive use of ready-made phrases.

A to Z entries

Language & Speech: A to Z entries