17 August 2017
As one of the oldest and most-respected professions in the world, it’s strange that we sometimes refer to doctors as quacks.
It’s not like they resemble ducks, so where did this rather unfitting label come from?
The Dutch word quacksalver was used in the 17th century to describe people who sold medicine.
However so many of these ‘miracle cure’ peddlers were selling fake potions that the word soon evolved to mean a crook.
Of course, in these times the difference between a genuine medical professional and a man promising to cure your illness with a bottle of flavoured water was negligible.
Quacks became prevalent throughout Europe during the cholera epidemics in the 1800s, where they prayed on people desperate for any sort of remedy to save them from the ailment that was killing so many of their neighbours.
It wasn’t until 1858 that the Medical Register was created in the UK, meaning only registered doctors could sell medicines or give medical advice.
While the quacks quickly died out, the name stuck, and has been associated with medical practitioners ever since.
On the other hand, Some Americans reportedly believe the name came about due to the massive bills you are hit with after a trip to the doctors (bills – ducks – quack… geddit?).
Of course this wouldn’t make sense to us in the UK because we have free universal healthcare.