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[kan-ter, -tawr] /ˈkæn tər, -tɔr/
the religious official of a synagogue who conducts the liturgical portion of a service and sings or chants the prayers and parts of prayers designed to be performed as solos.
an official whose duty is to lead the singing in a cathedral or in a collegiate or parish church; a precentor.
Origin of cantor
1530-40; < Latin: singer, equivalent to can(ere) to sing + -tor -tor
Can be confused
canter, cantor.


[kan-ter; for 2 also German kahn-tawr] /ˈkæn tər; for 2 also German ˈkɑn tɔr/
Eddie (Edward Israel Iskovitz) 1892–1964, U.S. singer and entertainer.
[gey-awrk] /geɪˈɔrk/ (Show IPA),
1845–1918, German mathematician, born in Russia. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cantor
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • None of the tenants appeared before him, nor was there a rough word spoken to him, even by young cantor.

    Cousin Henry Anthony Trollope
  • "Joe, ye shall be made to sit out in the kitchen; ye shall," said cantor the father.

    Cousin Henry Anthony Trollope
  • "You hear what young Mr cantor has said," continued the lawyer.

    Cousin Henry Anthony Trollope
  • "I know'd it," said young cantor, clenching his fist almost in her face.

    Cousin Henry Anthony Trollope
  • When the cantor was present, there was always fun and merriment.

British Dictionary definitions for cantor


(Judaism) Also called chazan. a man employed to lead synagogue services, esp to traditional modes and melodies
(Christianity) the leader of the singing in a church choir
Word Origin
C16: from Latin: singer, from canere to sing
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cantor

1530s, "church song-leader," from Latin cantor "singer, poet, actor," agent noun from past participle stem of canere "to sing" (see chant (v.)). Applied in English to the Hebrew chazan from 1893.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cantor in Technology

1. A mathematician.
Cantor devised the diagonal proof of the uncountability of the real numbers:
Given a function, f, from the natural numbers to the real numbers, consider the real number r whose binary expansion is given as follows: for each natural number i, r's i-th digit is the complement of the i-th digit of f(i).
Thus, since r and f(i) differ in their i-th digits, r differs from any value taken by f. Therefore, f is not surjective (there are values of its result type which it cannot return).
Consequently, no function from the natural numbers to the reals is surjective. A further theorem dependent on the axiom of choice turns this result into the statement that the reals are uncountable.
This is just a special case of a diagonal proof that a function from a set to its power set cannot be surjective:
Let f be a function from a set S to its power set, P(S) and let U = x in S: x not in f(x) . Now, observe that any x in U is not in f(x), so U != f(x); and any x not in U is in f(x), so U != f(x): whence U is not in f(x) : x in S . But U is in P(S). Therefore, no function from a set to its power-set can be surjective.
2. An object-oriented language with fine-grained concurrency.
[Athas, Caltech 1987. "Multicomputers: Message Passing Concurrent Computers", W. Athas et al, Computer 21(8):9-24 (Aug 1988)].
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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