• synonyms


[kreet-n or, esp. British, kret-n]
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  1. a person suffering from cretinism.
  2. a stupid, obtuse, or mentally defective person.
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Origin of cretin

1770–80; < French; Franco-Provençal creitin, crestin human being, literally, Christian (hence one who is human despite deformities)
Related formscre·ti·noid, adjectivecre·tin·ous, adjectivesem·i·cre·tin, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for cretin

Historical Examples

  • On the Rigi his musings on the magnificence of the view are checked by the presence of a cretin.

    Mountain Meditations

    L. Lind-af-Hageby

  • “It was rather a chouse to shoot a cretin, though,” said another, in chaff.

    Julian Home

    Dean Frederic W. Farrar

  • Only twelve kinds of a cretin would have gone on when faced with anything like this.

    Call Him Savage

    John Pollard

  • Of course, many people have goitre who are not cretins, but there is no cretin who has not goitre.

    How to Live

    Irving Fisher and Eugene Fisk

  • Every crank's whim, every cretin's philosophy, is fired at him first of all.


    Christopher Morley

British Dictionary definitions for cretin


  1. old-fashioned a person afflicted with cretinism
  2. offensive a person considered to be extremely stupid
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Derived Formscretinoid, adjectivecretinous, adjective

Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for cretin


1779, from French crétin (18c.), from Alpine dialect crestin, "a dwarfed and deformed idiot" of a type formerly found in families in the Alpine lands, a condition caused by a congenital deficiency of thyroid hormones, from Vulgar Latin *christianus "a Christian," a generic term for "anyone," but often with a sense of "poor fellow." Related: Cretinism (1801).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cretin in Medicine


  1. A person afflicted with cretinism.
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Related formscretin•oid′ (-oid′) adj.cretin•ous (-əs) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.