American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A hawker of quack medicines who attracts customers with stories, jokes, or tricks.
- n. A flamboyant charlatan.
- v. To act as a mountebank.
- v. Archaic To ensnare or prevail over with trickery.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A peripatetic quack; one who prescribes and sells nostrums at fairs and similar gatherings.
- n. Hence Any impudent and unscrupulous pretender; a charlatan.
- n. The short-tailed African kite, Helotarsus ecaudatus: so called from its aërial tumbling. Synonyms Empiric, etc. See
- Pertaining to or consisting of mountebanks; sham; quack: as, a mountebank doctor.
- Produced by quackery or jugglery.
- To cheat by unscrupulous and impudent arts; gull.
- To introduce or insinuate by delusive arts or pretensions.
- To play the mountebank: with indefinite it.
- n. One who sells dubious medicines.
- n. One who sells by deception; a con artist; a charlatan.
- v. intransitive To act as a mountebank.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. One who mounts a bench or stage in the market or other public place, boasts of his skill in curing diseases, and vends medicines which he pretends are infallible remedies; a quack doctor.
- n. Any boastful or false pretender; a charlatan; a quack.
- v. rare To cheat by boasting and false pretenses; to gull.
- v. To play the mountebank.
- n. a flamboyant deceiver; one who attracts customers with tricks or jokes
- From Italian montambanco ("quack who mounts a bench to hawk his wares") contracted from Italian monta-in-banco ("mount on bench"). (Wiktionary)
- Italian montambanco, from the phrase monta im banco, one gets up onto the bench : monta, one gets up, third person sing. present tense of montare, to get up (from Vulgar Latin *montāre; see mount1) + in, on, onto (from Latin; see in-2) + banco, bench (variant of banca, from Old Italian, bench, table, from Old High German bank). (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“In those days, pundit would have more likely been a synonym for 'mountebank', a delicious word, which has disappeared from usage.”
“He spoke the word "mountebank" sneeringly, and John flushed.”
“He went instantly to the prison, descended to the cell of the "mountebank," called him by name, took him by the hand, and spoke to him.”
“Ivan, for it was he who started the "mountebank" bear, that came near mounting him on the moment of their meeting it.”
“mountebank," as he named the man who had put his nose out of joint.”
“mountebank" performance as they called it, -- had been everything to them that was sacred in its devout simplicity.”
“mountebank," called him by name, took him by the hand, and spoke to him.”
“One can then be any kind of mountebank or robber, and yet rest assured of the ladies 'homage. ”
“In the late sixteenth century, English borrowed this word, now spelled mountebank, to refer to those roaming charlatans who would step onto a box or bench to attract the attention of potential buyers of such dubious offerings as “snake oil” medicine.1”
“The moment when we discover whether Mr. David Cameron is a politician of genuine principle and valour or simply a gutless mountebank may be fast approaching.”
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