from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A worthless preparation fraudulently peddled as a cure for many ills.
  • n. Speech or writing intended to deceive; humbug.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A traditional Chinese medicine used to treat joint pain.
  • n. A type of 19th century patent medicine sold in the United States that claimed to contain snake fat, supposedly a Native American remedy for various ailments.
  • n. A fraudulent, ineffective potion or nostrum; panacea.
  • n. Any product with exaggerated marketing but questionable or unverifiable quality.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (medicine) any of various liquids sold as medicine (as by a travelling medicine show) but medically worthless
  • n. communication (written or spoken) intended to deceive


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • The last time a small piece of fruit got so many people in trouble, palm fronds were in style and snake oil salesmen were actually serpents.

    The Flex Diet

  • Gordie Ballew was about as reliable as a snake oil salesman’s verbal guarantee, but Duncan nodded his agreement to DeeDee’s lie.



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