snake oil (uncountable)
- 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) A fraudulent, ineffective potion or nostrum; panacea.
- (idiomatic) Any product with exaggerated marketing but questionable or unverifiable quality.
snake oil (third-person singular simple present snake oils, present participle snake oiling, simple past and past participle snake oiled)
- (slang) To dupe or con.
- 1995, Nancy Owen Nelson (ed.), 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 2014, p. 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.