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!


Debra She Who Seeks said...

"Mountebank" is such a good, Mark Twain-ish kind of word. Interesting history -- thanks for enlightening us!

isabella777! said...

uhgg is bad that im jelous of ur friggin smartness?!?!?!?!?!

MRanthrope said...

congrats on the new job...and hopefully congrats on the PhD program as well.

D4 said...

Synonymous with politician then? Mostly? Sorta?

Just chill and post when you can.

Bibi said...

I don't think we have a Dutch equivalent that sounds more or less the same. Too bad, it's a catchy word. Now to think of when to use it.

Glad to hear you're well, and I hope you're enjoying teaching other philosophy aficionados.

Melanie said...

Knowing the meaning of the word makes that skit way funnier!

Mai Yang said...

wow! teachers who blogs are awesome :D

Mai Yang said...

*blog? haha

Henry said...

I remember that skit. Shuck you, eh?

G said...

Good to have you back posting.

Michael Westside said...

I shall now start using this word, mountebank, in everyday speak. And I'm not even english

Dear Girl Wallflower said...

loved the new words I am learning!
I will start reading your blog again, I have still lots of vocabulary to research too from the novel I am reading!

My new blog url is now:

Ioana-Carmen said...

Love your style! maybe we can follow each ohter?:X

Sarah said...

I read the name "Will Ferrell" so this post makes me instantly happy!

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