See more synonyms for mountebank on
  1. a person who sells quack medicines, as from a platform in public places, attracting and influencing an audience by tricks, storytelling, etc.
  2. any charlatan or quack.
verb (used without object)
  1. to act or operate as a mountebank.

Origin of mountebank

1570–80; (< Middle French) < Italian montimbanco one who climbs on a bench, equivalent to mont(are) to climb (see mount1) + -im-, variant of in on + banco bench (see bank2)
Related formsmoun·te·bank·er·y [moun-tuh-bangk-uh-ree] /ˈmaʊn təˌbæŋk ə ri/, noun

Synonyms for mountebank

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for mountebank

cheat, swindler, grifter, imposter

Examples from the Web for mountebank

Historical Examples of mountebank

  • It was not of the least use to me that I knew he was not the illustrious general, but simply a mountebank.

    A Day's Ride

    Charles James Lever

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

    The Gypsies

    Charles G. Leland

  • As a mountebank, a juggler, a quack doctor—I spurned the very idea.

  • Anything less would condemn a man as a fool or a mountebank.

    The Message

    Alec John Dawson

  • But his natural gift was to be a mountebank, a clown, a circus Hercules.

British Dictionary definitions for mountebank


  1. (formerly) a person who sold quack medicines in public places
  2. a charlatan; fake
  1. (intr) to play the mountebank
Derived Formsmountebankery, noun

Word Origin for mountebank

C16: from Italian montambanco a climber on a bench, from montare to mount ² + banco bench (see also bank 1)
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 mountebank

"a doctor that mounts a bench in the market, and boasts his infallible remedies and cures" [Johnson], 1570s, from Italian montambanco, contraction of monta in banco "quack, juggler," literally "mount on bench" (to be seen by crowd), from monta, imperative of montare "to mount" (see mount (v.)) + banco, variant of banca "bench" (see bank (n.2)). Figurative and extended senses from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper