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[shahr-luh-tn] /ˈʃɑr lə tn/
a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses; quack.
1595-1605; < Middle French < Italian ciarlatano, equivalent to ciarla(tore) chatterer (derivative of ciarlare to chatter; from imitative root) + (cerre)tano hawker, quack, literally, native of Cerreto, a village in Umbria, known for its quacks
Related forms
[shahr-luh-tan-ik] /ˌʃɑr ləˈtæn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
charlatanical, charlatanish, charlatanistic, adjective
charlatanically, adverb
impostor, mountebank, fraud, fake, phony. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for charlatans
  • While people may not consider us charlatans anymore, they probably think there is still too much show and tell and gloss.
  • Hygienic reformers are usually unequaled in imaginary horrors, except by the charlatans who vend panaceas.
  • They owe to donate time and expose all the anti-Science people for what they are charlatans who live from the credulity of fools.
  • Most thinking people question anything that charlatans say.
  • The physics community has been invaded by a bunch of crackpots and charlatans.
  • Now concerns are growing that many grieving families are being ripped off by charlatans claiming access to the spirit world.
  • They point to the many hedge funds of doubtful quality, with inexperienced managers or even charlatans at the helm.
  • The pitiless nature of these charlatans is almost beyond belief.
  • Sylvia and other such charlatans do need to be stopped.
  • Showing an incompetent cold reader is actually quite useful in exposing how these charlatans work.
British Dictionary definitions for charlatans


someone who professes knowledge or expertise, esp in medicine, that he or she does not have; quack
Derived Forms
charlatanism, charlatanry, noun
charlatanistic, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from French, from Italian ciarlatano, from ciarlare to chatter
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for charlatans



1610s, from French charlatan "mountebank, babbler" (16c.), from Italian ciarlatano "a quack," from ciarlare "to prate, babble," from ciarla "chat, prattle," perhaps imitative of ducks' quacking. Related: Charlatanism; charlatanical; charlatanry.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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charlatans in Medicine

charlatan char·la·tan (shär'lə-tən)
A person fraudulently claiming knowledge and skills not possessed.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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