19 January 2008

Dictionary Discovery

Ben alerted me to a fascinating little bit of trivia the other day. Since he's busy with finals, hopefully he won't mind if I blog this for him. :-)

He wrote to me saying:
SO on my list of terms for tomorrow's exam is the phrase "Cherethites and Pelethites", which when translated from Bible-speak means "Cretans and Philistines". Now, obviously it's referring to people from Crete and people from Philistia........but since 'Philistine' is now synonymous with 'boor', I wondered if the Bible's hatred for people from Crete could be the origin of the word "cretin".

But when I looked it up, the answer was *EVEN BETTER THAN I HOPED*
Here, via dicitonary.com, are the definitions for "cretin":
1. a person suffering from cretinism [severe hypothyroidism resulting in physical and mental stunting].
2. a stupid, obtuse, or mentally defective person.
And the etymology:
[French crétin, from French dialectal, deformed and mentally retarded person found in certain Alpine valleys, from Vulgar Latin *christiānus, Christian, human being, poor fellow, from Latin Chrīstiānus, Christian; see Christian.]
HAHA! How about that?

Among other things, I do believe this vindicates Shalini's somewhat enthusiastic use of the term to refer to creationists.

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