“slope, slant,” late 14c., Scottish, “edge, brink,” from Old North French cant “corner” (perhaps via Middle Low German kante or Middle Dutch kant), from Vulgar Latin *canthus, from Latin cantus “iron tire of a wheel,” possibly from a Celtic word meaning “rim of wheel, edge” (cf. Welsh cant “bordering of a circle, tire, edge,” Breton cant “circle”), from PIE *kam-bo- “corner, bend,” from root *kemb- “to bend, turn, change” (cf. Greek kanthos “corner of the eye,” Russian kutu “corner”).
1706, contraction of cannot.
In addition to the idioms beginning with can’t
- can’t abide
- can’t but
- can’t complain
- can’t do anything with
- can’t fight City Hall
- can’t help
- can’t hit the broad side of a barn
- can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
- can’t make head or tail of
- can’t punch one’s way out of a paper bag
- can’t see beyond the end of one’s nose.
- can’t seem to
- can’t see the forest for the trees
- can’t stand
- can’t wait
- beggars can’t be choosers
- if you can’t beat them, join them
- you can’t take it with you
- you can’t win them all
Also see undercan.