Also found in: Wikipedia.


n. Archaic
A quack or charlatan.

[Obsolete Dutch : Middle Dutch quac-, unguent, or quacken, to quack, boast + Middle Dutch salven, to salve.]


(Medicine) an archaic word for quack2
[C16: from Dutch, from quack, apparently: to hawk + salf salve1]


(ˈkwækˌsæl vər)

a quack; charlatan.
[1570–80; < early Dutch (now kwakzalver); see quack1, salve1, -er1]
References in periodicals archive ?
Quacksalver bogus medic; Ambodexter someone who takes bribes from both sides; Slug-a-bed couch potato; Awhape amazing; Dowsabel sweetheart; Rouzy-bouzy lager lout; Hugge to shudder or shake with fear or with cold; Swerk gloomy, troubled, or sad; Wasteheart to show grief, regret or disappointment; Momist a harsh critic; Stomaching full of resentment; Merry-go-sorry a mixture of joy and sorrow; Sillytonian gullible; Hugger-mugger someone who works in secret; Snout-fair good looking; Man-millinery male vanity; Tremblable dreadful; Coney to trick
The Oxford English Dictionary (2) defines quack: "abbreviation of quacksalver.
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.
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 performance.
The term itself, as Barrett points out, "derives from the word quacksalver (someone who boasts about his salves).
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.
10) At the market cross one might see the traveling duo of Banks and his famous horse, newly returned from Italy (reports of their deaths by fire for sorcery in Rome having proved premature), or thrill to the harangues of turbanned quacksalvers who might be anything from barbers, players, and peddlers to true exotics, "runagate Jews, the cut-throats and robbers of Christians," according to one hysterical citizen.