When I use a word…: Quacks

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 19 July 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:h
  1. Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist
  1. Oxford

    There are several pejorative names for doctors or peddlers of supposedly ineffective medicines, and most of them relate to advertising. Quacks were originally called quacksalvers, supposedly because they “quacked” or boasted about their salves; a mountebank was a man who climbed on to a soapbox (Italian: monte banco) to shout his wares at a fair; and a charlatan was wont to prattle (Italian: ciarlare) about his medicines. On the other hand, an …

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