Cretinism is a condition of severely stunted physical and mental growth due to untreated congenital deficiency of thyroid hormones (congenital hypothyroidism) usually due to maternal hypothyroidism. The term cretin describes a person so affected, but, as with words such as spastic, idiot and lunatic, also is a word of abuse. Cretin became a medical term in the 18th century, from an Alpine French dialect prevalent in a region where persons with such a condition were especially common (see below); it saw wide medical use in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and then spread more widely in popular English as a markedly derogatory term for a person who behaves stupidly. Because of its pejorative connotations in popular speech, health-care workers have mostly abandoned cretin. The etymology of cretin is uncertain. Several hypotheses exist.
Contributions by Alteripse, Brian0918, and 220.127.116.11.