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[kreet-n or, esp. British, kret-n] /ˈkrit n or, esp. British, ˈkrɛt n/
a person suffering from cretinism.
a stupid, obtuse, or mentally defective person.
Origin of cretin
1770-80; < French; Franco-Provençal creitin, crestin human being, literally, Christian (hence one who is human despite deformities)
Related forms
cretinoid, adjective
cretinous, adjective
semicretin, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cretin
Historical Examples
  • Something of the goître and cretin influence seems to settle on my spirits sometimes, on the lower ground.

  • 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 is very commonly accompanied by idiocy; and, in fact, the cretin is one of the most distressing objects that can be seen.

  • The Hindoo fakir bears about with him the burden of his vision, as the cretin his goître.

    Toilers of the Sea Victor Hugo
  • 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
  • Only twelve kinds of a cretin would have gone on when faced with anything like this.

    Call Him Savage John Pollard
  • “It was rather a chouse to shoot a cretin, though,” said another, in chaff.

    Julian Home Dean Frederic W. Farrar
  • 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
  • The male criminal in this respect resembles the epileptic, and especially the cretin, in whom grey hair is seldom seen.

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

    Shandygaff Christopher Morley
British Dictionary definitions for cretin


(old-fashioned) a person afflicted with cretinism
(offensive) a person considered to be extremely stupid
Derived Forms
cretinoid, adjective
cretinous, adjective
Word Origin
C18: from French crétin, from Swiss French crestin, from Latin ChrīstiānusChristian, 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
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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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cretin in Medicine

cretin cre·tin (krēt'n)
A person afflicted with cretinism.

cre'tin·oid' (-oid') adj.
cre'tin·ous (-əs) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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