A person who makes elaborate, fraudulent, and often voluble claims to skill or knowledge; a quack or fraud.
[French, from Italian ciarlatano, probably alteration (influenced by ciarlare, to prattle) of cerretano, inhabitant of Cerreto, a city of Italy once famous for its quacks.]
char′la·tanic (-tănĭk), char′la·tani·cal adj.
charla·tan·ism, charla·tan·ry n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.