Preaching with a whining, affected tone. Perhaps a corruption of chaunting. Some derive it from Andrew Cant, a famous Scotch preacher, who used that whining manner of expression. Also a kind of gibberish used by thieves and gypsies, called likewise pedlar’s [sic] French, the slang, etc., etc.
There’s a post crying out to be written that investigates Mr. Andrew Cant but, alas, that post waits to live another week. Instead, I’ve grabbed a few caricatures of “canting clerics” from Rowlandson, Gillray, and Cruikshank.
Slang term taken from 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Why this book isn’t on everyone’s coffee table …