noun1 : a pretender to medical skill : quack 2 : one making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability : fraud, faker
Even though the psychic seemed to know a lot of information about Irving’s life, Irving was still convinced that the guy was a charlatan who made some lucky guesses.
“I’ve been reading the tabloids for 40 years! … And I’ve been fascinated by charlatans and fakers and sociopaths for as long as I’ve been alive.” — Jean Hanff Korelitz, quoted in Newsday (New York), April 6, 2014
Did you know?
In medieval times, people claiming medical skills they did not have roamed throughout Italy, selling “medicine” that was often completely without worth. Many of these pretenders reputedly came from a village called Cerreto, and as a result, “cerretano” (meaning “inhabitant of Cerreto”) became an epithet for a quack physician. In addition, these frauds used a practiced patter to attract customers, rather like the chatter of a circus barker. The Italian word for “chatter” is “ciarlare,” and chattering was so associated with the “cerretano” that the spelling of the word shifted to “ciarlatano.” By the early 17th century, we had anglicized the Italian word to “charlatan” and adopted it as our own.