noun moun·te·bank \ ˈmau̇n-ti-ˌbaŋk \

Definition of mountebank

1 : a person who sells quack medicines from a platform
2 : a boastful unscrupulous pretender : charlatan


play \-ˌbaŋ-k(ə-)rē\ noun

mountebank was our Word of the Day on 11/16/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of mountebank in a Sentence

  1. a gang of swindlers and mountebanks

  2. claimed that many doctors were frauds and mountebanks

Recent Examples of mountebank from the Web

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Did You Know?

Mountebank derives from the Italian montimbanco, which was formed by combining the verb "montare" ("to mount"), the preposition "in" (converted to im, meaning "in" or "on"), and the noun "banco" ("bench"). Put these components together and you can deduce the literal origins of "mountebank" as someone mounted on a bench - the "bench" being the platform on which charlatans from the 16th and 17th centuries would stand to sell their phony medicines. Mountebanks often included various forms of light entertainment on stage in order to attract customers. Later, extended uses of "mountebank" referred to someone who falsely claims to have knowledge about a particular subject or a person who simply pretends to be something he or she is not in order to gain attention.

Origin and Etymology of mountebank

Italian montimbanco, from montare to mount + in in, on + banco, banca bench




Definition of mountebank

transitive verb
obsolete : to beguile or transform by trickery
  • I'll mountebank their loves
  • —William Shakespeare
intransitive verb
obsolete : to play the mountebank

First Known Use of mountebank

circa 1616

MOUNTEBANK Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of mountebank for English Language Learners

  • : a dishonest person : a person who tricks and cheats other people

Medical Dictionary


noun moun·te·bank \ ˈmau̇nt-i-ˌbaŋk \

medical Definition of mountebank

: an itinerant hawker of pills and patent medicines especially from a platform : quack
  • bought an unction of a mountebank
  • —Shak.

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