1

mountebank

play
noun moun·te·bank \ˈmau̇n-ti-ˌbaŋk\

Definition of mountebank

  1. 1 :  a person who sells quack medicines from a platform

  2. 2 :  a boastful unscrupulous pretender :  charlatan

mountebankery

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

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


First Known Use: 1566


2

mountebank

verb moun·te·bank

Definition of mountebank

  1. transitive verb
  2. obsolete :  to beguile or transform by trickery I'll mountebank their loves — William Shakespeare

  3. intransitive verb
  4. obsolete :  to play the mountebank

Circa 1616

First Known Use of mountebank

circa 1616


MOUNTEBANK Defined for English Language Learners

mountebank

play
noun

Definition of mountebank for English Language Learners

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


Medical Dictionary

mountebank

play
noun moun·te·bank \ˈmau̇nt-i-ˌbaŋk\

Medical Definition of mountebank

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



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

the point at which something begins

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!