Probably a doublet of chrétien (“Christian”), from Latin Christianus (undergoing some Franco-Provençal-like sound changes). Specifically, likely from a dialect in the Swiss/Alpine francophone region where there was once an endemic level of cretinism. It is also linked, somewhat euphemistically, to one of the older senses of the word, referring to any Christian man, peasant, simple or regular person, and in some cases by extension a "poor/unfortunate fellow" (cf. also benêt, innocent). Compare the senses of other Romance languages such as Romansh carstgaun (“person”), Neapolitan Italian cristiano (“guy”), Neapolitan crestiano, Sicilian cristianu (“person”), Portuguese cristão (“soul, person”), Spanish cristiano (“guy”).
- (pathology) cretin (someone affected by cretinism) [from 1750]
- (derogatory, offensive) cretin (moron; idiot etc.) [from 1835]
- German: Kretin
- English: cretin
- Italian: cretino
- Spanish: cretino
- Portuguese: cretino
- Russian: кретин (kretin)
- “crétin” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).