Definition of huckster in US English:



  • 1A person who sells small items, either door-to-door or from a stall or small store.

    • ‘You take away the impression that you've been spun a shaggy parrot story told by a sideshow huckster, albeit with attention-grabbing skill.’
    • ‘Folks, this is a very old stunt, used by carnival hucksters for generations to convince gullible victims that ‘energies’ are being demonstrated.’
    • ‘Tommy uses every trick in the book to catch his man: dressing as a rodeo clown, shilling prizes as a slick Vegas huckster, or pretending to be a backwoods hick, Tommy has all the right moves.’
    • ‘New ordinances banned boys from throwing rocks, female hucksters from selling food door-to-door, and people of color from assembling after curfew.’
    • ‘Consumers seeking relief from phone hucksters shouldn't be sold a bill of goods by their government.’
    • ‘It reads more like a huckster selling long-life elixir at a rural county fair.’
    • ‘The trick is to find them among the dross of ill-informed advice from psychobabbling hucksters who don't seem to live in the real world.’
    • ‘He mused (more than asked): ‘Do you know you can measure the state of the economies of most developing countries by the number of hucksters you encounter at traffic lights?’’
    • ‘Here professionals and housewives discard their workaday images and become hucksters offering the output of their hobbies.’
    • ‘These homespun medications were sold by itinerant hucksters, pharmacies, and whoever could spellbind a listener with lofty promises of cure.’
    • ‘Wouldn't this make him a set-up for an oily huckster who sold lame horses with a false hump?’
    • ‘Nearby, hucksters sell postcards of the skyline, in which the towers remain shiningly intact.’
    • ‘In 1880, the Federal census reported 2,690 commercial travelers, hucksters, and peddlers based in Chicago - 98 percent of whom were men.’
    • ‘Another pulled toffee - at least in its classic form - is Irish yellowman, a sweet still often sold at fairs by hucksters proclaiming its supposedly health-giving properties.’
    • ‘At the base there was the mass of peddlers, hawkers, hucksters, at best shopkeepers.’
    • ‘I cringed at the hucksters on the street, who had a negative impact on the brand.’
    • ‘When you put it that way, the street-level huckster almost sounds more honorable than the executive.’
    • ‘This bland 30-second spot stood out in the cluttered huckster's marketplace of morning television because of all the elements that were missing.’
    • ‘To add to the incessant cacophony of all the usual hucksters and souvenir traders, the pilgrims and the clergy, the temple is also still being built.’
    trader, dealer, seller, purveyor, vendor, barrow boy, salesman, door-to-door salesman, pedlar, hawker
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    1. 1.1 A mercenary person eager to make a profit out of anything.
      • ‘Even worse, he warned, are the hucksters who will sell dangerous ‘south-pole’ magnets with potentially life-threatening consequences.’
      • ‘We see cash-starved municipalities being heavily lobbied to privatize services by corporate hucksters even though costs will rise and local control is lost.’
      • ‘Instructive, isn't it, how much scientists clamoring for federal funds sound like that quintessential American huckster, the snake-oil salesman?’
      • ‘Or, we might get a rash of hucksters, hustlers, and bigots, attracted by the smell of public funds.’
      • ‘An electric broom huckster has no divine right to tell us what design is and isn't.’
      • ‘Many New Yorkers perceived the proposal as a hoax, junk art or the work of just another fly-by-night huckster.’
      • ‘If you are one of his victims, it will not ease your frustration to know that his business - on behalf of diet-pill hucksters, online casinos and the like - has made the one-time insurance fraudster a millionaire.’
      • ‘That range embraces everything from human genius to human criminality, from knowledgeable creativity to ignorant destruction, from human healers to human hucksters.’
      • ‘There are too many snake - oil salesmen, hucksters, conmen and digital shamans attracted by the glamour and financial promise of the net.’
      • ‘Of course, ‘privatization’ is a politically-popular fad these days, but before we turn this sensitive government function over to for-profit hucksters, let's think twice.’
      • ‘Other content indicators include ALL CAPS text, red font tags, huckster language like ‘pure profit’ and even the word ‘remove.’’
      • ‘They'll last for the unsuspecting customer about three and a half minutes, and the customer will think all flower growers are hucksters.’
      • ‘America was a land of professionally suave huckster sales people.’
      • ‘They are desperate people in search of a cure, and as such deserve protection from hucksters who would use that desperation to turn a quick profit.’
      • ‘Before we can begin to evaluate the evidence, we must get rid of the hucksters and charlatans who have turned unsolved mysteries into a profitable business.’
    2. 1.2North American A publicity agent or advertising copywriter, especially for radio or television.
      • ‘You go to war with the best public relations huckster you can have: the White House announced last week that a Washington public relations executive, with no experience in military affairs, was the nominee for the post.’
      • ‘Of course, it won't surprise me if some huckster manages to get the two women to square off again.’
      • ‘The huckster advertises an attractive item-an appliance, aluminum siding, a new kitchen-at an astonishingly low price. That's the bait, and consumers predictably rise to it.’
      • ‘Every genius, promoter and huckster wanted a piece of the action.’
      • ‘Their role is more significant (in a couple of senses) than hucksters whose interest in the lives of other people is limited to an opportunity to ply their craft.’
      • ‘Besides, consumers have always been in an equilibrium with advertisers and hucksters - some gullible people will fall for anything, while others are impervious to all manipulation.’


[with object]North American
  • 1Promote or sell (something, typically a product of questionable value).

    • ‘There should be high profile Indonesian culture and trade expos at major cities in the west, shamelessly huckstering for this country.’
    • ‘So, although he will presumably be ‘shocked’ to learn it, his military-technological huckstering appalled the old general.’
    • ‘Nearly a century ago, for instance, radio was a new grassroots phenomenon that responded to community needs without huckstering the listeners.’
    • ‘Too often, the most famous members of the profession become preoccupied by their own personalities, generating flashy images and huckstering iconic trademarks.’
    • ‘If you hear any other coach claim his player deserves consideration, you know that coach is shamefully huckstering or making sure his guy gets on an All-American team.’
    • ‘These kinds of electronic spaces seem to be far removed from the image of the bustling, huckstering Bartholomew Fair, but it seems that many scholars in the Humanities confuse them.’
    • ‘His huckstering abilities soon ingratiated him to Joe Frazier, the world heavyweight champion, whom he accompanied to Kingston, Jamaica, in 1973, when Frazier defended his crown against Foreman.’
    • ‘You have thousands of members cancelling their memberships, and that anger is only going to grow as people realize they got huckstered by this bill.’
    advertise, publicize, give publicity to, bang the drum for, beat the drum for, popularize, sell, market, merchandise
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    1. 1.1no object Bargain; haggle.
      • ‘The staff is smart, attentive, and blessedly innocent of the huckstering and bum's rushing that often characterize staples of the tourist circuit.’
      • ‘Littlebody grumbles of indignity - ‘the huckstering / - jumping around in your green top hat ‘- but the laws laid down so long ago hold true and he offers up his purse of gold.’’
      • ‘Thousands of TV commercials go on their merry way, oblivious to dire circumstances outside the calculus of huckstering.’
      • ‘Rather than caricaturing him, Gladwell uses Popeil and his family legacy of boardwalk huckstering to teach Madison Avenue lessons it would never have learned in business school.’
      • ‘From the start, negotiations over water have been rife with miscalculations, poor planning and plain old huckstering.’
      • ‘Of course, in the universal association of Jews with commerce and huckstering there was a huge element of stereotyping.’
      • ‘Sorry that I have to resort to such shameless huckstering.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘retailer at a stall, hawker’): probably of Low German origin.