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Aug 24, 2011
This week's theme
Words to describe people

This week's words
parvenu
nubile
mountebank
losel
penurious
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

mountebank

PRONUNCIATION:
(MOUN-tuh-bangk)

MEANING:
noun: An unscrupulous pretender; a quack.

ETYMOLOGY:
A mountebank was a hawker of quack medicines who peddled his wares from the top of a bench to attract customers. The word is from Italian montambanco (one who climbs on a bench), from montare (to climb) + im-/in- (on) + banco (bench). Earliest documented use: 1577.

USAGE:
"Billy Graham is now at death's door, and I shudder at the fulsome eulogies and encomiums that will be heaped on him upon his demise. Fortunately, Bothwell's book [The Prince of War] can provide a salutary antidote to them. It's the only fitting memorial for Graham and stands as a stark warning to posterity to be on guard against similar charlatans, mountebanks, and demagogues, especially in the fertile field of religion. Bothwell's book should be required reading for all Americans."
Richard A. S. Hall; Evangelist Unmasked; Free Inquiry (Amherst, New York); Aug/Sep 2011.

See more usage examples of mountebank in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The world is a looking glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. -William Makepeace Thackeray, novelist (1811-1863)

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