Definition of charlatan
charlatanismplay \-tə-ˌni-zəm\ noun
charlatanryplay \-rē\ noun
charlatan was our Word of the Day on 06/03/2014. Hear the podcast!
Examples of charlatan in a Sentence
the famed faith healer turned out to be a charlatan
Recent Examples of charlatan from the Web
The distilling world is awash in companies that are trying to leverage technology to rapidly age spirits, but Davis dismisses them all as primitive at best, charlatans at worst.
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
First Known Use: 1618See Words from the same year
CHARLATAN Defined for English Language Learners
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
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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