1. One who behaves badly, often by breaking rules of conduct or the law.
2. Archaic One who does not believe in a certain religion; an infidel or heretic.
[Middle English miscreaunt, heretic, from Old French mescreant, present participle of mescroire, to disbelieve : mes-, wrongly, not; see MIS-1 + croire, to believe (from Latin crēdere; see kerd- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.