Definition of canter in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkantə/


[in singular]
1A pace of a horse or other quadruped between a trot and a gallop, with not less than one foot on the ground at any time: I rode away at a canter
More example sentences
  • It takes a lot of practice, but eventually you'll be able to advance to a faster trot and even a canter and still keep your horse on the bit without getting into a pulling match.
  • He wasn't supposed to ride her in a trot, canter or gallop.
  • We landed softly on the other side, continuing a smooth gallop, until I checked him back to a canter, trot and then walk.
1.1A ride on a horse at a canter: we came back from one of our canters
More example sentences
  • We didn't work him all week, the last three mornings here are the first canters he's had since last Sunday.
  • You'd think that being whisked through the forest by a team of frisky huskies would be fast - to the spectator, at least, it looks more of a canter than a white-knuckle ride.
  • They're just doing normal canters and will be building up to their first piece of work in a few days, I would imagine.


[no object, with adverbial of direction]
1(Of a horse) move at a canter in a particular direction: they cantered down into the village
More example sentences
  • By the end of the lesson, she is sitting deep in the saddle as her horse canters in a controlled, relaxed manner.
  • All horses canter well when no rider is on board.
  • ‘He doesn't like horses cantering up behind him, he's always been a little silly like that,’ laughed Tryon.
1.1 [with object] Make (a horse) move at a canter: Katharine cantered Benji in a smaller and smaller circle
More example sentences
  • Instead, he chose to canter his horse around Epsom in April to familiarise him with the track.
  • Now if a rider canters his horse inside an arena without any obstacles, like a fence or a jump, he could consider himself a dressage rider and should follow certain rules so not to endanger himself or his mount.
  • The blond little girl clenched her teeth, cantered her mare to the jump, but the mare put an extra stride in, not giving herself space to jump the fence.


in (or at) a canter

British Without much effort; easily: they retained their leadership of the Second Division at a canter
More example sentences
  • His lead was briefly threatened by the 66 of the runner-up, who had started the final day well back in the field, but ‘Champagne’ Tony was eventually able to stroll home in a canter.
  • Hull Zingari, who were the last champions of the now defunct Ridings League, won their first game in the York Senior League in a canter when Castleford crashed to a nine wicket defeat at Chanterlands Avenue.
  • Under normal circumstances, we could write it off as no contest; the Six Nations champions would win in a canter, and by a massive margin.


Early 18th century (as a verb): short for Canterbury pace or Canterbury gallop, from the supposed easy pace of medieval pilgrims to Canterbury.

  • This word began as a shortened form of Canterbury pace or Canterbury gallop, the term for the gentle rate at which mounted pilgrims made their way to the shrine of St Thomas à Becket at Canterbury in the Middle Ages. To win something at a canter is to do so with the greatest ease. In horse-racing a horse easily wins a race if it is able to run the final stretch cantering rather than galloping.

Words that rhyme with canter

Atlanta, banter, infanta, levanter, manta, ranter, Santa, tam-o'-shanter

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: can¦ter

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