moun·​te·​bank | \ ˈmau̇n-ti-ˌbaŋk How to pronounce mountebank (audio) \

Definition of mountebank

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


mountebanked; mountebanking; mountebanks

Definition of mountebank (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

obsolete : to beguile or transform by trickery I'll mountebank their loves— William Shakespeare

intransitive verb

obsolete : to play the mountebank

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Other Words from mountebank


mountebankery \ ˈmau̇n-​ti-​ˌbaŋ-​k(ə-​)rē How to pronounce mountebank (audio) \ noun

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.

Examples of mountebank in a Sentence

Noun a gang of swindlers and mountebanks claimed that many doctors were frauds and mountebanks
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun American politicians, the pusillanimous and the mountebanks and even their opposites, used to be as highfalutin as Foghorn Leghorn with their gibes, which made politics fun for fans of Shakespeare, the Bible or obscure history. oregonlive, "Donald Trump is famous for his insults, but his invective doesn’t compare to Theodore Roosevelt’s, Oregon author argues," 31 Mar. 2020 He was ignored on almost every major issue by the incredible cast of fools and mountebanks with whom the president* has surrounded himself. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "The Rex Tillerson Story Is Full of Holes," 13 Mar. 2018 Laying it off on senior administration officials will no longer fly given the liars, hustlers, incompetents, poseurs and mountebanks who dominate this West Wing. David Zurawik,, "Press gives Trump 'fake news' ammo when it predicts things that don't come to pass," 9 Mar. 2018 The Presidency has hardly been free of mountebanks and worse. David Remnick, The New Yorker, "Preserve, Protect, and Defend," 19 Jan. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of mountebank


1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1616, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for mountebank


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

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The first known use of mountebank was in 1566

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Cite this Entry

“Mountebank.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of mountebank

old-fashioned + literary : a dishonest person : a person who tricks and cheats other people


moun·​te·​bank | \ ˈmau̇nt-i-ˌbaŋk How to pronounce mountebank (audio) \

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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