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    tmservo433, Maudlin, defluxion10

    Snake Oil

    One source, Dr. William S. Haubrich in his book Medical Meanings (1997, American College of Physicians) claims that the name came from the Eastern United States. The Native Americans of New York and Pennsylvania region would rub cuts and scrapes with the petroleum collected from oil seeps that occurred naturally in the area. European settlers observed this habit, and began bottling and selling the substance as a cure-all. The preparation was sold as "Seneca oil" in mid-nineteenth century, after the local tribes. Haubrich claims through mispronunciation this became "Sen-ake-a oil" and eventually "snake oil". Haubrich's claim, however, appears to be a case of folk etymology, as no further evidence appears to exist for this transformation.

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