Definition of mountebank in English:



  • 1A person who deceives others, especially in order to trick them out of their money; a charlatan.

    • ‘The artistic milieu of late-nineteenth century France is the world in which he moves, surrounded by artists, aristocrats, mountebanks and tarts.’
    • ‘Yes, for a long time I have been agitating for the licensing of ‘psychics’ and other such mountebanks.’
    • ‘He has been described as a ‘a mountebank, a charlatan and a scribbler’ by one author, although others see him as a proto-social scientist.’
    • ‘You get back idiotic form letters from these mountebanks telling you they ‘care’ and ‘are investigating.’’
    • ‘He is a mountebank and a racist.’
    • ‘Epithets of ‘statesman’ were thrown around, but charlatan or mountebank might have been more appropriate.’
    • ‘Style and elegance are no longer twin fortes of virus-writing mountebanks.’
    • ‘It has become the profession of public office seekers, title hunters, social pushers, dollar diddlers, mountebanks and cads.’
    • ‘He was, in fact, a charlatan, a mountebank, a zany without any shame or dignity.’
    • ‘And you, editors of my beloved Book Review, without which no weekend would be complete, should be ashamed, deeply so, for giving this mountebank such unwarranted attention.’
    • ‘Is this not the age of the mountebank, of the spin-doctor and his big lies?’
    • ‘All along, he was an audacious mountebank and a mendacious bully, who knew almost nothing about actual existing communism and who never identified a single Soviet agent.’
    • ‘Mountebanks like him can suck them dry of their last earnings by promising them a little nest in the heavens.’
    • ‘What could that mountebank of a preacher have said to turn his mind so?’
    • ‘In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the ‘learned physicians’ who were taught Galenic humoral medicine in the universities labelled such doctors quacks, empirics, and mountebanks.’
    • ‘It was otherwise an unremarkable fair: too much food, dancing, theft, mountebanks, young men and women sneaking off together, people in witlessly fashionable clothing.’
    • ‘They're nothing but a pack of social scientists, marketers, and mountebanks who don't even look at the game but analyze the arena for logo penetration and recognition.’
    • ‘He is not yet regarded as the mountebank he really is.’
    swindler, charlatan, confidence trickster, confidence man, fraud, fraudster, impostor, trickster, racketeer, hoaxer, sharper, quack, rogue, villain, scoundrel
    conman, shark, flimflammer, sharp
    grifter, bunco artist, chiseller
    shicer, magsman, illywhacker
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1historical A person who sold patent medicines in public places.
      • ‘A lifestyle guru is a modern sort of mountebank, selling quack advice instead of false medicines.’
      • ‘Additional evidence indicates that it was a term used among medical mountebanks in Tudor times.’
      • ‘The word toady comes from ‘toad-eater’: a quack's or mountebank's assistant who would eat, or pretend to eat, a toad so he could be cured by the medicine man.’
      • ‘Whitman, so deeply sensuous that his poetry has the emotive compulsion of the fairground mountebank, was famous enough to be used in advertisements.’
      • ‘There had always been mountebanks and charlatans operating in the public squares, but they now dominated the marketplace.’


Late 16th century: from Italian montambanco, from the imperative phrase monta in banco! climb on the bench! (with allusion to the raised platform used to attract an audience).