mountebank was our Word of the Day on 11/16/2011. Hear the podcast!
Examples of mountebank in a sentence
a gang of swindlers and mountebanks
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
Definition of mountebank
: to beguile or transform by trickery I'll mountebank their loves — William Shakespeare
: to play the mountebank
First Known Use of mountebank
MOUNTEBANK Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of mountebank for English Language Learners
: a dishonest person : a person who tricks and cheats other people
Seen and Heard
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