charlatan

noun char·la·tan \ ˈshär-lə-tən \
Updated on: 21 Nov 2017

Definition of charlatan

1 : 4quack 2
  • charlatans harming their patients with dubious procedures
2 : one making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability : fraud, faker
  • a charlatan willing to do and say virtually anything to remain in the spotlight
  • —Alan Brinkley

charlatanism

play \-tə-ˌni-zəm\ noun

charlatanry

play \-rē\ noun

charlatan was our Word of the Day on 06/03/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of charlatan in a Sentence

  1. the famed faith healer turned out to be a charlatan

Recent Examples of charlatan from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'charlatan.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 and Etymology of charlatan

Italian ciarlatano, alteration of cerretano, literally, inhabitant of Cerreto, from Cerreto, Italy


CHARLATAN Defined for English Language Learners

charlatan

noun

Definition of charlatan for English Language Learners

  • : a person who falsely pretends to know or be something in order to deceive people


CHARLATAN Defined for Kids

charlatan

noun char·la·tan \ ˈshär-lə-tən \

Definition of charlatan for Students

: a person who falsely pretends to know or be something
  • The charlatan sold useless medicinal potions.

Medical Dictionary

charlatan

noun char·la·tan \ ˈshär-lət-ən \

medical Definition of charlatan

: quack


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