[ kreet-n or, especially British, kret-n ]
See synonyms for: cretincretinous on

  1. (no longer in technical use) a person with cretinism.

  2. Informal. a very stupid or contemptible person.

Origin of cretin

First recorded in 1770–80; from French crétin, originally from French Alpine dialect creitin, crestin “deformed and mentally defective dwarf” (owing to iodine deficiency in Alpine regions); further origin uncertain; perhaps from Vulgar Latin Christiānus “a Christian, human being, unfortunate person,” from Latin Christiānus Christian

Other words from cretin

  • cre·ti·noid, adjective
  • cre·tin·ous, adjective
  • sem·i·cre·tin, noun

Words Nearby cretin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use cretin in a sentence

  • Another author mentions a cretin who could tell exactly the birthdays and death-days of the inhabitants of his town for a decade.

    Criminal Psychology | Hans Gross
  • The poetical whim of cretin, a French poet, brought into fashion punning or equivocal rhymes.

  • The cretin, whose eyes caught a glimpse of the cake, laughed, and began to try to reach out her hand to take it.

    Rollo in Geneva | Jacob Abbott
  • The cretin was the one variety of the human species with which the commandant had not yet come in contact.

    The Country Doctor | Honore de Balzac
  • Benassis himself, after a close scrutiny of the dull eyes and corpse-like face, gently took the cretin's hand and felt his pulse.

    The Country Doctor | Honore de Balzac

British Dictionary definitions for cretin


/ (ˈkrɛtɪn) /

  1. old-fashioned a person afflicted with cretinism

  2. offensive a person considered to be extremely stupid

Origin of cretin

C18: from French crétin, from Swiss French crestin, from Latin Chrīstiānus Christian, alluding to the humanity of such people, despite their handicaps

Derived forms of cretin

  • cretinoid, adjective
  • cretinous, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012