snake oil


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snake oil

A valueless or fraudulent cure, remedy, or solution. Often used in the phrase "snake oil salesman," one who sells or promotes such a product. My mom keeps giving me all of these hippie-dippie pills to help my migraines, but I think they’re just snake oil, honestly.
See also: oil, snake

snake oil

see under banana oil.
See also: oil, snake

snake oil

Snake oil is something which is sold or presented as a cure or a solution to a problem but which, in fact, has no use or value. Do vitamins really help the skin or are cosmetic companies simply promoting the latest in snake oil? Note: You can also describe someone as a snake-oil salesman, meaning that they try to sell you or persuade you to believe in snake oil. Smooth-talking snake-oil salesmen use the telephone to take money from the foolish and the greedy and then vanish. Note: In the United States, snake oil was a substance typically made from the plant snakeroot. Dishonest salesmen tried to persuade people to buy it, claiming that it was a medicine which would cure their illnesses.
See also: oil, snake

snake oil

Quack medicine, a useless remedy. This term comes from nineteenth-century traveling medicine shows that touted cure-all elixirs made from Chinese snakes. Eugene O’Neill used it in this sense in his play The Iceman Cometh (1946): “I’ll bet he’s standing on a street corner in hell right now, making suckers of the damned, telling them there’s nothing like snake oil for a bad burn.” Later the term was extended to mean a worthless remedy for any kind of problem, as in “Advertisers who try to lubricate the wheels of our economy with snake oil” (Washington Post, May 10, 1961).
See also: oil, snake
References in periodicals archive ?
While many of these apps are from trusted, legitimate organizations such as the American Medical Association or small, nimble health start-ups focused on driving innovation, there are what may seem like snake oil salesmen among them.
The Ballad of Snake Oil Sam captivates an audience of young and old alike, transporting you into the Wild Wild West with the inspiring mystical story of a desert traveler, inventor, alchemist and magical elixir salesman in pursuit of redemption.
We can continue to buy the snake oil, potions, ointments, and elixirs hoping for the quick cure, or we can deal with the real ailment.
That of the father-daughter team of Lester and Carol Reed (Chapter 7)--third and fourth generation residents whose family was famous for snake oil production--is most illustrative, but that of Bill Galick, a Vermont native, relict of the past and modern pioneer (the title of Chapter 8) is even more fascinating.
One is the greedy, lying, cheating snake oil salesmen represented by Mark Twain's "The King and the Duke" The other is represented by the down-to-earth common-sensical Huck and Jim, and the decent entrepreneurial Tom.
"It sounds like a snake oil pitch," admits chemist Ronald Jandacek, an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine who once worked for olestra developer Procter & Gamble.
The truth is that most of the pills and potions that line store shelves and Web sites are little more than snake oil, and behind their lofty references to scientific research, most of the marketers are little more than MBA-toting snake-oil sellers.
As "Pennsylvania snake oil," oil was the preferred term for quack patent medicines worse than the disease.
In La Bayadere, poor little rich Gamzatti finds that a lowly temple maiden has stolen her prince's heart: time for a little snake oil, with snake attached.
Proponents of 'it never fails' hangover cures are the modern equivalent of the old American snake oil merchants.
"One guy in Boston actually looked at me and said, 'You keep saying fish oil, but I keep hearing snake oil.'"
A FINE letter by Paul Brighton (March 31),however he fails totally to address the cause of low turnouts -institutionalised politicians who are less trustworthy than snake oil salesmen and less credible than the infamous `Comical Ali' and who actually think they are important.
"It sounds like snake oil, but, believe me, it's the real deal," concluded Byrd.
Worse, when confronted by less-than-terrific results from free market experimentation, wizened First World economists suddenly reanimate as 19th-century snake oil salesmen, prescribing more of the same tonic that ails us: "Been trying it for 20 years and your people are still starving, your foreign debt is even larger, and your politicians more corrupt?
Tax professionals need to shut the door on the snake oil salesmen."