cult

noun, often attributive
\ ˈkəlt How to pronounce cult (audio) \

Definition of cult

1 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious (see spurious sense 2) also : its body of adherents the voodoo cult a satanic cult
2a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (such as a film or book) criticizing how the media promotes the cult of celebrity especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
b : the object of such devotion
c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion the singer's cult of fans The film has a cult following.
3 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual also : its body of adherents the cult of Apollo
4 : formal religious veneration : worship
5 : a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator health cults

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from cult

cultic \ ˈkəl-​tik How to pronounce cultic (audio) \ adjective
cultish \ ˈkəl-​tish How to pronounce cultish (audio) \ adjective
cultishly \ ˈkəl-​tish-​lē How to pronounce cultishly (audio) \ adverb
cultishness \ ˈkəl-​tish-​nəs How to pronounce cultishness (audio) \ noun
cultism \ ˈkəl-​ˌti-​zəm How to pronounce cultism (audio) \ noun
cultist \ ˈkəl-​tist How to pronounce cultist (audio) \ noun
cultlike \ ˈkəlt-​ˌlīk How to pronounce cultlike (audio) \ adjective

The Overlap of Cults and Culture

Cult, which shares an origin with culture and cultivate, comes from the Latin cultus, a noun with meanings ranging from "tilling, cultivation" to "training or education" to "adoration." In English, cult has evolved a number of meanings following a fairly logical path. The earliest known uses of the word, recorded in the 17th century, broadly denoted "worship." From here cult came to refer to a specific branch of a religion or the rites and practices of that branch, as in "the cult of Dionysus." By the early 18th century, cult could refer to a non-religious admiration or devotion, such as to a person, idea, or fad ("the cult of success"). Finally, by the 19th century, the word came to be used of "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious."

Examples of cult in a Sentence

She has developed a cult following. long after it had gone off the air, the TV series continued to have a huge cult

Recent Examples on the Web

Brooklinen—the cult-favorite luxury bedding brand—has joined forces with The Inside on a first-of-its-kind collaboration through a limited run of printed sheet sets. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "The Inside and Brooklinen’s New Collaboration is a Design Dream Come True," 25 Apr. 2019 Boris is a cult hero, a poet, a musician without a stage. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Ludovico: The piano’s quiet rock star talks about his first Houston concert," 11 July 2018 It’s hard to imagine that ever being the case if Last 2 Walk had popped off a few hits, went platinum, and led to more diluted crossover albums that made Juicy and Paul tiresome fixtures in the news cycle rather than cult heroes. Patrick Lyons, Billboard, "10 Years Ago, Three 6 Mafia's 'Last 2 Walk' Almost Ruined Their Legacy," 24 June 2018 Folk/pop singer Ray LaMontagne’s latest, Part of the Light, feels dreamy and bucolic but with one large boot planted in the unmoored psychedelia of Pink Floyd and 1960s Los Angeles cult heroes Love. Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "Top Picks: Ray LaMontagne’s 'Part of the Light,' the podcast 'Giants of History,' and more top picks," 9 June 2018 Unfortunately, the Montevideo-native was never able to establish himself as anything more than a fringe player and cult hero at Old Trafford. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 6 Days to Go - Reliving the Fine Career of 2010 Golden Ball Winner Diego Forlan," 8 June 2018 This aging Colón has emerged as a cult hero, beloved by fans unconnected to whichever team happens to employ him. Robert O'connell, The Atlantic, "Bartolo Colón, One of the Last of His Kind," 4 June 2018 The incident made Zaidi a cult hero in much of the Arab world, which had been growing increasingly frustrated with U.S. policy in the Middle East following Bush's decision to invade Iraq. NBC News, "Journalist who threw shoes at Bush is running for office in Iraq," 2 May 2018 Friday night at Bellator 197 in St. Louis, Brock confronts Baby Slice, the son of the late mixed martial arts cult hero Kimbo Slice. Lance Pugmire, latimes.com, "Bellator's Devon Brock says he fixed himself by counseling an eating-disorder patient," 13 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cult.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of cult

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for cult

French & Latin; French culte, from Latin cultus care, adoration, from colere to cultivate — more at wheel

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cult

Statistics for cult

Last Updated

20 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cult

The first known use of cult was in 1613

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cult

cult

noun

English Language Learners Definition of cult

: a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous
: a situation in which people admire and care about something or someone very much or too much
: a small group of very devoted supporters or fans

Medical Definition of cult

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on cult

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cult

Spanish Central: Translation of cult

Nglish: Translation of cult for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cult for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about cult

Comments on cult

What made you want to look up cult? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

using a distributed computer network

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!