snake oil

noun
Updated on: 24 Apr 2018

Definition of snake oil

1 : any of various substances or mixtures sold (as by a traveling medicine show) as medicine usually without regard to their medical worth or properties

Recent Examples of snake oil from the Web

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

First Known Use of snake oil

1917

in the meaning defined at sense 1

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SNAKE OIL Defined for English Language Learners

snake oil

Definition of snake oil for English Language Learners

  • : something that is sold as medicine but that is not really useful or helpful in any way


Medical Dictionary

snake oil

noun

medical Definition of snake oil

: any of various substances or mixtures sold (as by a traveling medicine show) as medicine usually without having had the claims of their medical worth or properties substantiated by scientific tests

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