One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1offensive, informal A stupid person (used as a general term of abuse).idiot, ass, halfwit, nincompoop, blockhead, buffoon, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, imbecile, dullard, moron, simpleton, clodView synonyms
dated A person who is physically deformed and has learning difficulties because of congenital thyroid deficiency.
- ‘This congenital hypothyroidism, unlike the neurological cretin, is amenable to treatment with thyroid hormones.’
Late 18th century: from French crétin, from Swiss French crestin ‘Christian’ (from Latin Christianus), here used to mean ‘human being’, apparently as a reminder that, though deformed, cretins were human and not beasts.
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