[ shahr-luh-tn ]
/ ˈʃɑr lə tn /


a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses; quack.

Nearby words

  1. charity school,
  2. charivari,
  3. chark,
  4. charkha,
  5. charlady,
  6. charlatanism,
  7. charlatanry,
  8. charlemagne,
  9. charlene,
  10. charleroi

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 formschar·la·tan·ic [shahr-luh-tan-ik] /ˌʃɑr ləˈtæn ɪk/, char·la·tan·i·cal, char·la·tan·ish, char·la·tan·is·tic, adjectivechar·la·tan·i·cal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for charlatan

British Dictionary definitions for charlatan


/ (ˈʃɑːlətən) /


someone who professes knowledge or expertise, esp in medicine, that he or she does not have; quack
Derived Formscharlatanism or charlatanry, nouncharlatanistic, adjective

Word Origin for charlatan

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

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

Medicine definitions for charlatan


[ shärlə-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.