The medieval quacksalver
, lacking medical knowledge, sold medicines with no evidence for efficacy; he typically moved from one fair to the next to avoid customer complaints.
The 16th century name quacksalver
- a peddler of fake medicines - is the origin of the word quack as a derogatory term for a dodgy doctor.
AB auras / burbs AD Aira / dird AF Aiae (HI) / fife AH taiga / thigh AK sauna / skunk AN aevis / Nevin (CA, KY) AP area / prep AU zamboorak / zumbooruk AY coala / coyly AC aleak / cleck AE anticar / enticer AG aurae/gurge AI quacksalver
/ quicksilver AM toatoa / tom-tom AO abelian / obelion AR Aotea / roter AW Aoa (AS) / wow
Apparently 'quack' is an abbreviation of the 16th century ointment quacksalver
, derived from the Dutch quack, meaning to hawk and saif.
(n) Longer form of quack (doctor), meaning an ignorant pretender to medical skills.
We have severe decrees against such traveling medicos from French kings Philippe the Fair in 1311 and John the Good in 1352, but even these postdate by more than half a century Rutebeuf's Dit de la herberie, which is already a literary appropriation of a quacksalver
Butterworth's close analysis of language also suggests that the vocabulary of the juggler often emerges in the period like a lawyer joke; that is to say, the magician's image and art can be used to insult not only a pickpocket, a card-sharp, a dice player, a fortuneteller, a charlatan, a mountebank, a quacksalver
, and a witch, but also a would-be lover, a Catholic priest, and yes, even a lawyer.
SNAKE oil salesmen, quacksalvers
, mountebanks, and charlatans will always be around to gull the gullible.