1

mountebank

play
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

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

Recent Examples of mountebank from the Web

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

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


2

mountebank

verb

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

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

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


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