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Jun 10, 2015
This week’s theme
Toponyms

This week’s words
antimacassar
podunk
charlatan
spaniel
Jerusalem syndrome

The Charlatan
The Charlatan
Art: Pietro Longhi, 1757

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

charlatan

PRONUNCIATION:
(SHAHR-luh-tuhn)

MEANING:
noun: One making false claim to having a certain expertise; a fraud or quack.

ETYMOLOGY:
From French charlatan, from Italian ciarlatano, from cerretano (an inhabitant of Cerreto). Cerreto is a village in Umbria, Italy, once known for its quacks. Another etymology pins the origin of the term on the Italian ciarlare (to chatter), of imitative origin. Perhaps the word charlatan is a blend of the two, as charlatans are known for chattering. Earliest documented use: 1607.

USAGE:
“Yet despite his career as a space pitchman, Wernher von Braun was no charlatan, and Neufeld shows clearly that his achievements as a rocketman are unsurpassed.”
Guy Gugliotta; Wernher von Braun, Scientist Without a Moral Compass; Washington Post; Sep 16, 2007.

See more usage examples of charlatan in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The ideal scientist thinks like a poet and only later works like a bookkeeper. -E.O. Wilson, biologist (b. 10 Jun 1929)

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