Old English Cretense (plural), "natives or inhabitants of Crete, from Latin Cretanus (singular); see Crete. They were proverbial in ancient times as liars; compare Greek noun kretismos "lying," literally "Cretan behavior," and the classical sophism expressing the liar paradox (see one version below). Alternative Cretic (c. 1600) was used especially of a form of verse.
Epimenides, the Cretan, says that all Cretans are liars.
If Epimenides' statement is not true, he is a liar; and if it is true, he is a liar, for he is a Cretan.
But his statement is either true or not true.
Therefore he is a liar.
But since he is a liar, his statement is not true that all Cretans are liars.
Therefore some Cretans are not liars.
But since some Cretans are not liars, Epimenides is not necessarily a liar because he is a Cretan.
Therefore, we may accept his statement that all Cretans are liars. And so on.
[John J. Toohey, "An Elementary Handbook of Logic," 1918]
updated on September 29, 2018