By Keating Smith, Wordsmith
The jug of milk that’s been sitting at the back of your fridge for the past month and the oh-so-popular term douchebag have one thing in common—they have both expired. While we all wait for the next blockbuster comedy to arrive with a fresh delivery of the latest and greatest slang words for us to use at our disposal, I vouch instead to take the time to popularize our own slang. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the word “cretin.”
Defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a stupid, vulgar, or insensitive person” and by the ever so bad-mannered UrbanDictionary.com as “A person that is brainless, stupid, child-like, and full of pointless information that makes no sense and appeals only to other cretins,” it is fair to say that cretin may also have a shelf life like other slang and derogatory terms that have come and gone over the years. Like the members of the Rolling Stones, the classic slang beginning with F, S, and D will be around long after you and I cease to exist.
A quick glance at the history books reveals that the word was unfortunately derived from cretinism, an at-birth medical condition caused by a lack of thyroid hormone production but has evolved over time to give a somewhat different meaning like all other slang has. The word also has yet to be used in popular culture on a grand scale from what I can tell.
Pay attention to the way it sounds and rolls off your tongue—especially for those of you who are talented enough to roll your r’s. The word almost sounds like you are referring to someone as a nasty, bottom-feeder of an insect, yet with a persuasive and firm tone to it. Did you feel a little bit of an ego boost and tingle down your spine saying it out loud? I thought so, you intellectual, you scholar you. Noam Chomsky just smiled in his sleep thanks to your efforts with the word.
Besides, douchebag is something a bar star calls you after one too many attempts at picking them up while severely inebriated and sounds like some prehistoric gardening tool your grandmother used to ensure the vegetable garden was filled with only the finest harvest for her family.
Be sure you know how to pronounce the word (cree-tin), as it would be thoroughly embarrassing to call someone Creatine, or worse, a crepe.
So go ahead and be creative, be original, and for everyone’s sake: don’t be a cretin.