nouninformal, chiefly North American
1A substance with no real medicinal value sold as a remedy for all diseases.
- Ever since, unwary Americans have spent untold billions on contemporary versions of snake oil, some of which, like ephedra, have turned out to have few if any benefits and to pose real dangers.
- Maybe his private chemist cooked up an elixir of bathtub gin, snake oil and Smith Brothers cough drops.
- We need good medicine, not more jokey formulas for snake oil.
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