Saturday, May 7, 2011
A word that should return to regular usage:
Mountebank: a fraud or charlatan; one who makes money by deceiving others.
Etymology: Italian. The direct translation means "mount a bench", which is the way sellers of miracle cures would stand above a large crowd to get attention.
You see the word in 19th Century literature quite a bit. W.S. Gilbert broke up with Sir Arthur Sullivan for a time and wrote an operetta titled The Mountebanks with Alfred Cellier in 1892. The play had a long run in London and short run in New York, but is rarely performed today.
Please do what you can to bring this wonderful word back into usage. There are many mountebanks in the world today. Reading about the derivatives market, mountebanks appear to be the engine of the world economy.
Thank you for your kind attention.