snake oil

noun
Updated on: 30 Jan 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


SNAKE OIL Defined for English Language Learners

snake oil

noun

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

Learn More about snake oil


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up snake oil? 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

nourishment or food and drink

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a-citrus-fruit-possibly-named-after-a-person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

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!