in Wacky Word Wednesday

Ducks, doctors, and pretentious attitudes…this week’s wacky word for Wacky Word Wednesday is all of these things and more, wrapped into one. It’s almost headache inducing, is it not?

Today’s definition prescription from

quo top




One who boasts of his skill in medicines and salves, or of the efficacy of his prescriptions; a charlatan; a quack; a mountebank.

quo botQuacksalver

Quacksalver comes from the late 16th century’s Dutch word kwakzalver, a “hawker of salve.” The Middle Dutch word is quacken, meaning “to brag or boast.” “Quack” means “to hawk,” a person who preys on others, as a swindler.Salve,” defined as a medicinal ointment for healing or relieving wounds and sores derives its meaning from pre-10th century Old English sealf. “Salve” also holds ties to German (salbe), and Sanskrit (sarpis, meaning “melted butter”).

As quacksalver is essentially an elongated version of the word “quack,” its everyday usage quite uncommon. In spite of this unspecquackular fact, we have a few example sentences you can use, should you ever be required to use this word (which will most likely be never, but you never know).

  • Don’t get your hopes up; that medicine is from a quacksalver. (Wiktionary)
  • He was so desperate to cure his cold before the party that night that he decided to go see a quacksalver. (Oxford Dictionary)
  • The medical imposters on the information superhighway are no more scrupulous than earlier quacksalvers who traveled along the streets of towns and villages. (Merriam-Webster)

Now that we’re all better acquainted with the word, we should all make sure to do our best not to be quacksalvers this week, and next week, and the next, and…you get the point. See you next week for more Wacky Word Wednesday.

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