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- (idiomatic) A fraudulent, ineffective potion or nostrum; panacea.
- A traditional Chinese medicine used to treat joint pain.
- A type of 19th-century patent medicine sold in the United States that claimed to contain snake fat, supposedly a Native American remedy for various ailments.
- (idiomatic) Any product with exaggerated marketing but questionable or unverifiable quality.
- 2022 January 12, Nigel Harris, “Comment: Unhappy start to 2022”, in RAIL, number 948, page 3:
- As for the IRP, Secretary of State Grant Shapps continues to peddle snake oil, smoke and mirrors. His reaction to near-universal IRP condemnation from politicians, local and national media, and all but a few rail specialists was to dismiss the lot of us (in the condescending and patronising tone we have now come to expect) as "critics and naysayers".
fraudulent, ineffective potion or nostrum
- (slang) To dupe or con.
- 1995, Nancy Owen Nelson, editor, Private Voices, Public Lives:
- And this is particularly so for many of our women students who have been hustled and snake-oiled to deny the validity of their intellects.
- 2013, Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge, Vintage, published 2014, page 23:
- Before she had a chance to deal with her hangover, he was on the phone snake-oiling her into the first of what would be many ill-fated fraud cases.