ellesieg (ellesieg) wrote in 1word1day,
ellesieg
ellesieg
1word1day

Tuesday Word: cretin

I find myself alternating between Will Oldham's Viva Last Blues and a Ramones compilation these days, apparently hopeful that if I listen to them enough, I will eventually be able to understand the lyrics. It seems to be paying off! I've gotten a good bit more out of the former album than the knowledge that Oldham has apparently thought about having relations with a mountain, and The Ramones mix..uhh, well, I did finally make out the word "cretin" in track 10 ("Cretin Hop" -- looking at the track listing would have been helpful!) today.

The OED defines a cretin as "one of a class of dwarfed and specially deformed idiots found in certain valleys of the Alps and elsewhere." Used in a more general sense, a cretin is a fool or someone who behaves foolishly. Harsh! The origins of the word are somewhat refreshing, however. Cretin comes from the French Swiss crestin or creitin, and, more recently, crétin in plain old French, meaning "Christian," as in a respectable human being. Applied to these valley-dwellers, it served as a reminder that those who are not "normal" in manner or appearance still deserve kindness and respect. Then again, it is a shame that a reminder should be required, and I may be giving whoever coined the term a bit too much credit.

As for what The Ramones were getting at...well, give me another month and maybe I'll be able to make out an adjective or two, as well as further cement the mental image of them recording all of their vocals while being violently shaken.

Cretin is pronounced CREET-in (long "e") or CRET-in (short "e"). The latter pronunciation appears to be the standard in British English, while the former is more common among speakers of American English.
Tags: c, french, noun, wordsmith: ellesieg
Subscribe

  • A trio of Friday words

    Bubulcitate - It means to cry like a cowboy - Yippe yay ki yay! Drawcansi - A person who kills both friends and foes. Iatraliptic - A medical term…

  • back again

    Bogglish - To be uncertain, doubtful or a wee bit skittish about something, I'm a little bogglish about using this word, the truth be known...

  • It tickles me that this is on the Merriam-Webster site.

    fan fiction (noun) Definition: stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet. Called also…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Comments allowed for members only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 1 comment