Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person afflicted with cretinism.
  • n. Slang An idiot.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person who fails to develop mentally and physically due to a congenital hypothyroidism.
  • n. An idiot.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One afflicted with cretinism.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One of a numerous class of deformed idiots found in certain valleys of the Alps and elsewhere; one afflicted with cretinism.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person of subnormal intelligence

Etymologies

French crétin, from French dialectal, deformed and mentally retarded person found in certain Alpine valleys, from Vulgar Latin *christiānus, Christian, human being, poor fellow, from Latin Chrīstiānus, Christian; see Christian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French crétin (dialectal form of chrétien), from Vulgar Latin christianus, from Latin Christianus, in the lost sense of 'unfortunate person'. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • cretin...looking up words for a great book called Freak the Mighty...this word comes up ALOT in this book. :1

    February 17, 2010

  • “Indeed, the problem used to be widespread in the Alps. The word ‘cretin’ is believed to come from a mountain dialect of French, apparently because iodine deficiency in the Alps produced so many cretins. The problem ended when food was brought in from elsewhere and salt was iodized.�?

    The New York Times, Raising the World’s I.Q. , by Nicholas D. Kristof, December 4, 2008

    December 4, 2008

  • NOUN: Slang. One deficient in judgment and good sense: ass, fool, idiot,imbecile, jackass, mooncalf, moron, nincompoop, ninny, nitwit, simple, simpleton, softhead, tomfool. Informal: dope, gander, goose. Slang: ding-dong, dip, goof, jerk, nerd, schmo, schmuck, turkey.

    September 15, 2007

  • 1779, from Fr. Alpine dialect crestin, "a dwarfed and deformed idiot," from V.L. christianus "a Christian," a generic term for "anyone," but often with a sense of "poor fellow."

    September 15, 2007