Friday, February 24, 2012


mountebank [ˈmaʊntəˌbæŋk] n.

1.) An itinerant quack who from an elevated platform appealed to his audience by means of stories, tricks, juggling, and the like, in which he was often assisted by a professional clown or fool.
2.) fig. An impudent pretender to skill or knowledge, a charlatan; one who resorts to degrading means to obtain notoriety. So, "to play the mountebank" (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: Italian montambanco, from the phrase monta im banco, one gets up onto the bench: monta, one gets up, third person sing. present tense of montare, to get up (from Vulgar Latin montare) + in, on, onto + banco, bench (variant of banca, from Old Italian, bench, table, from Old High German bank).

"—Will Ferrell: That's beautiful. And finally, Sean Connery's also here let's move on to Double Jeopardy where the categories-
—Darrell Hammond: Not so fast Trebek.
—Will Ferrell: I really thought that was going to work.
—Darrell Hammond: Well, you were wrong, you mountebank. I pose a conundrum to you, a riddle if you will.
—Will Ferrell: I don't want to hear it.
—Darrell Hammond: What's the difference between you and a mallard with a cold? One's a sick duck and I can't remember how it ends, but your mother's a whore."
(Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey and Dennis McNicholas (head writers), 2000)

(A Mountebank At His Stand In A Rural Fair, With A Church Beyond, Joachim van den Heuvel, 1636)

Hey all, sorry about the lack of posts recently. I'm teaching at a community college while I wait to hear from PhD programs, and it zaps a lot of my energy (as does waiting to hear from PhD programs). Hopefully now I've reached equilibrium and we can get the contest up and running again (are you enjoying that book you won, Lemons Don't Make Lemonade?). Thanks for reading!