• synonyms


  1. a fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill.
  2. a person who pretends, professionally or publicly, to skill, knowledge, or qualifications he or she does not possess; a charlatan.
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  1. being a quack: a quack psychologist who complicates everyone's problems.
  2. presented falsely as having curative powers: quack medicine.
  3. of, relating to, or befitting a quack or quackery: quack methods.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to treat in the manner of a quack.
  2. to advertise or sell with fraudulent claims.
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Origin of quack2

First recorded in 1620–30; short for quacksalver
Related formsquack·ish, adjectivequack·ish·ly, adverbquack·ish·ness, noun


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for quackish

Historical Examples

  • Religion and philosophy have been impudent and quackishquackish!


    H. G. Wells

  • Quackish absurdities of so glaring a nature have, however, long been scorned in civilized society.

    A Treatise on Sheep:

    Ambrose Blacklock

  • And yet to the quackish lecturer it is the key to unlock all his scientific treasures.

  • Finally, we love De Quincey for his abhorrence of all knavish or quackish men, and his deep respect for human nature.

British Dictionary definitions for quackish


verb (intr)
  1. (of a duck) to utter a harsh guttural sound
  2. to make a noise like a duck
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  1. the harsh guttural sound made by a duck
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Word Origin

C17: of imitative origin; related to Dutch kwakken, German quacken


    1. an unqualified person who claims medical knowledge or other skills
    2. (as modifier)a quack doctor
  1. British, Australian and NZ informal a doctor; physician or surgeon
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  1. (intr) to act in the manner of a quack
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Derived Formsquackish, adjective

Word Origin

C17: short for quacksalver
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 quackish



"to make a duck sound," 1610s, earlier quake (1520s), variant of quelke (early 14c.), of echoic origin (cf. Middle Dutch quacken, Old Church Slavonic kvakati, Latin coaxare "to croak," Greek koax "the croaking of frogs," Hittite akuwakuwash "frog"). Middle English on the quakke (14c.) meant "hoarse, croaking." Related: Quacked; quacking.

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"medical charlatan," 1630s, short for quacksalver (1570s), from obsolete Dutch quacksalver (modern kwakzalver), literally "hawker of salve," from Middle Dutch quacken "to brag, boast," literally "to croak" (see quack (v.)) + salf "salve," salven "to rub with ointment" (see salve (v.)). As an adjective from 1650s. The oldest attested form of the word in this sense in English is as a verb, "to play the quack" (1620s). The Dutch word also is the source of German Quacksalber, Danish kvaksalver, Swedish kvacksalvare.

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duck sound, 1839, from quack (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

quackish in Medicine


  1. An untrained person who pretends to be a physician and dispenses medical advice and treatment.
  2. A charlatan.
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Related formsquacker•y n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.