9 Grammatical Pitfalls

snake oil

any of various liquid concoctions of questionable medical value sold as an all-purpose curative, especially by traveling hucksters.
Slang. deceptive talk or actions; hooey; bunkum:
The governor promised to lower taxes, but it was the same old snake oil.
Origin of snake oil
1925-30, Americanism
Related forms
snake-oil, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for snake oil
  • He had snake oil to sell us, something that would make everything better by restoring our moral vitality.
  • He's selling snake oil to the eager customers, and he knows it.
  • The culprit is public ignorance of science which uncritically allows in the purveyors of snake oil and scare stories.
  • In any case, some of the financial snake oil peddled at the height of the housing bubble was bad for saving.
  • Instead he is selling the same snake oil of aid and green technology to the developing world as the solution.
  • How absurd it would be, how socially stigmatizing, for anybody to peddle such snake oil.
  • That's one of the reasons that snake oil salesmen have done so well marketing to affected people.
  • Your snake oil doesn't fly, kiddo, and you really need to get yourself a bit more than a tenth-grade science education.
  • It's a mature industry, but you present it as snake oil.
  • Someday, this sort of snake oil selling will catch up to the scammers.
Slang definitions & phrases for snake oil



A person whose hips move smoothly and effectively, such as a clever runner in football, a hula dancer, etc (1932+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with snake oil

snake oil

see under banana oil
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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