Rainmaking is a superstitious belief that performing a dance will make rain come. I guess it's somewhat analogous to the term snake oil salesman but, whereas snake oil salesman sell their bill of goods for their own gain, rainmakers, it seems to me, are acting more as community placebo's, calming people's nerves.

I'd like to tell someone that "I'm a software developer - not a rainmaker" but I feel like that's a little too obscure. Is there an analogous reference I can make that might be more broadly understood?

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    I'm a software developer - not a magician? Does that float your boat? Jan 14 at 8:04
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    “Rainmaker” in AmE also is used to describe the members of a law firm or consulting firm (or similar) who bring in clients, and this is probably its main use today, which isn’t what you want. I think “. . .I’m not a magician” works.
    – Xanne
    Jan 14 at 9:32
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    'Magician' works, but for those of us of us d'un certain âge the correct form starts with "Dammit, Jim,..."
    – Jim Mack
    Jan 14 at 14:09
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    You have a mix here. I'm not a rainmaker does not say I cannot soothe. It says that even a virtuoso cannot perform miracles. A sound engineer once said "I can give you the acoustics of Shakira, but you won't sound like Shakira." Jan 14 at 14:34
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    I'm a software developer — not a chill pill. (A notional pill taken to make a person calm down or relax.) Jan 15 at 3:14

I think "I'm a software developer - not a miracle worker" fits with how you want to use it.

However "someone who sells false hope to calm nerves" could be a priest/priestess, magician, or shaman. Anyone who claims access to, and knowledge of, the divine or unseen.


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    Uhm, no. It is not a given that the priest/priestess/shaman is actually selling false hope. Not only does the priest, etc actually believe that the hope is genuine, there is no connotation that links falsity with that position. Even shamans usually believe in what they provide. Contrast this with "snake-oil salesman" where it is clear that the salesman knows he is selling false hope. Jan 14 at 18:41
  • But "- not a miracle worker" fits well. Jan 14 at 19:15
  • Fair point @FeliniusRex if it the seller must know that the hope is false. If it isn't a precondition, then shaman/priest (athiestically) would fit. Jan 17 at 16:27

Hardly idiomatic, but the word palliator fits:

palliate [verb] [transitive]

  1. to lessen the severity of (pain, disease, etc) without curing or removing; alleviate; mitigate ...
  • palliation [noun]
  • palliator [noun]

[Collins English Dictionary]


Yes. One such phrase is "snake-oil salesman", where it is clear that the salesman knows full well that he is selling false hope.

dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary: "someone who deceives people in order to get money from them:"

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