Simple Definition of charlatan
: a person who falsely pretends to know or be something in order to deceive people
Examples of charlatan in a sentence
<the famed faith healer turned out to be a charlatan>
Did You Know?
In medieval times, people claiming medical skills they did not have roamed throughout Italy, selling "medicine" that was often completely without worth. Many of these pretenders reputedly came from a village called Cerreto, and as a result, cerretano (meaning "inhabitant of Cerreto") became an epithet for a quack physician. In addition, these frauds used a practiced patter to attract customers, rather like the chatter of a circus barker. The Italian word for "chatter" is ciarlare, and chattering was so associated with the cerretano that the spelling of the word shifted to ciarlatano. By the early 17th century, we had anglicized the Italian word to charlatan and adopted it as our own.
Origin of charlatan
Italian ciarlatano, alteration of cerretano, literally, inhabitant of Cerreto, from Cerreto, Italy
First Known Use: 1618
CHARLATAN Defined for Kids
Definition of charlatan for Students
: a person who falsely pretends to know or be something <The charlatan sold useless medicinal potions.>
Seen and Heard
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