cre·​tin ˈkrē-tᵊn How to pronounce cretin (audio)
often offensive : one afflicted with cretinism
informal : a stupid, vulgar, or insensitive person : clod, lout
… they started doing stupid boy stuff, like trying to untie our straps and pour sand down our bathing suits. Really, guys were such cretins sometimes.Marilyn Reynolds
cretinous adjective

Did you know?

Chronic iodine deficiencies in diet can result in malfunctions of the thyroid gland, the gland that produces hormones necessary for normal human development. Some mountainous regions, such as parts of the Alps, do not naturally provide their inhabitants with a diet rich enough in iodine, and the resultant hypothyroidism causes stunted growth and mental retardation. In Franco-Provençal (the Romance speech of French Switzerland and adjacent areas of France), a person affected by hypothyroidism was called a cretin, literally, “wretch, innocent victim,” The word meant simply “Christian” and emphasized the hypothyroid victim's basic humanity.

Example Sentences

the captain finally had to deal with the cretin in the back of the plane in discussions anyone who disagrees with her is inevitably called a cretin
Recent Examples on the Web In Abercrombie’s fiction, the shining hero on horseback may be the most wretched cretin of them all, while the dandy of a prince, despised by his own people, is the one person with real courage and decency. Erik Kain, Forbes, 6 Sep. 2021 But the good things Huff did 10 years ago don’t give him a lifetime pass to be a cretin. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, 18 Feb. 2020 There are the buck-passers, cretins who are content to simply stand up, find another table, and pass their misfortune on to some other unsuspecting soul. Amiel Stanek, Bon Appétit, 26 Aug. 2019 Law's take on the royal cretin Vortigern ranges from very evil to very, very evil. John Serba |,, 12 May 2017 The problem, of course, is a small minority of cretins who are destructive just for the sake of being destructive, without any regard for the environment or any consideration for others who deserve to see our natural areas without blemish. Steve Lipsher, The Denver Post, 22 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cretin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


French crétin, from French dialect cretin, literally, wretch, innocent victim, from Latin christianus Christian

First Known Use

1775, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cretin was in 1775

Dictionary Entries Near cretin

Cite this Entry

“Cretin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


cre·​tin ˈkrēt-ᵊn How to pronounce cretin (audio)
often offensive : one having cretinism
: dolt

Medical Definition


cre·​tin ˈkrēt-ᵊn How to pronounce cretin (audio)
often offensive
: one affected with cretinism
cretinous adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on cretin

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Which Came First?

  • baby chick with a brown egg
  • hot take or cold shoulder?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?