Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[shahr-luh-tn] /ˈʃɑr lə tn/
a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses; quack.
Origin of charlatan
1595-1605; < Middle French < Italian ciarlatano, equivalent to ciarla(tore) chatterer (derivative of ciarlare to chatter; from imitative root) + (cerre)tano hawker, quack, literally, native of Cerreto, a village in Umbria, known for its quacks
Related forms
[shahr-luh-tan-ik] /ˌʃɑr ləˈtæn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
charlatanical, charlatanish, charlatanistic, adjective
charlatanically, adverb
impostor, mountebank, fraud, fake, phony. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for charlatan
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Surely nobody would be a charlatan who could afford to be sincere.

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Hugh could not help thinking there was more or less of the charlatan about the man.

    David Elginbrod George MacDonald
  • If I were a mountebank or a charlatan I would claim that it cures a hundred diseases.

    The Gypsies Charles G. Leland
  • The charlatan, however, steadily refused the Bishop's advice.

    The Minister of Evil William Le Queux
  • Where is the difference, after all, between you and any charlatan of the lot?

    Robert Elsmere Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • This was no charlatan that spoke to him, but one in earnest who believed what he said.

    Morning Star H. Rider Haggard
British Dictionary definitions for charlatan


someone who professes knowledge or expertise, esp in medicine, that he or she does not have; quack
Derived Forms
charlatanism, charlatanry, noun
charlatanistic, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from French, from Italian ciarlatano, from ciarlare to chatter
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for charlatan

1610s, from French charlatan "mountebank, babbler" (16c.), from Italian ciarlatano "a quack," from ciarlare "to prate, babble," from ciarla "chat, prattle," perhaps imitative of ducks' quacking. Related: Charlatanism; charlatanical; charlatanry.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
charlatan in Medicine

charlatan char·la·tan (shär'lə-tən)
A person fraudulently claiming knowledge and skills not possessed.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for charlatan

Word Value for charlatan

Scrabble Words With Friends