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Word of the Day
Saturday, April 03, 2004

Definitions for mountebank

  1. A peddler of quack medicine, who stands on a platform to appeal to the audience.
  2. A charlatan; a boastful pretender to knowledge or a skill.

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Citations for mountebank
The man whom Mr. Masson had described as his father's guru is finally regarded by the alert, knowing, newly skeptical son as "a phony, a charlatan, a mountebank, an impostor, a quack." Robert Coles, New York Times
Nevertheless, in William Avery Rockefeller one clearly detects the blarney and easy conviviality of the mountebank. Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
Origin of mountebank
Mountebank comes from the Italian montambanco, montimbanco, from the phrase monta in banco, literally "mounts on bench" (i.e. "gets up on a bench").