Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

snake oil

noun

Simple Definition of snake oil

  • : something that is sold as medicine but that is not really useful or helpful in any way

Full Definition of snake oil

  1. 1 :  any of various substances or mixtures sold (as by a traveling medicine show) as medicine usually without regard to their medical worth or properties

  2. 2 :  poppycock, bunkum

1917

First Known Use of snake oil

1917


Medical Dictionary

snake oil

noun

Medical Definition of snake oil

  1. :  any of various substances or mixtures sold (as by a traveling medicine show) as medicine usually without having had the claims of their medical worth or properties substantiated by scientific tests




Learn More about snake oil

  1. Medical Dictionary: Definition of "snake oil"


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up snake oil? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

pince-nez spindrift kittly-benders duvet
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ