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

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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
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 The cult film was adapted into an FX series last year, so the silliness doesn’t have to stop at the 90-minute mark. Washington Post, "For when the world is scarier than Halloween, these 12 streaming movies are simply a treat," 16 Oct. 2020 With nine screens, the new Prytania will be able to offer more of everything in the mix at the Uptown theater, including new releases, classic, arthouse and cult favorite films. Will Coviello, NOLA.com, "Prytania Theatre to expand to second location with 9-screen Canal Place theater," 15 Oct. 2020 Along with his co-creator, Brett Goldstein, Bridges teases out the dystopian possibilities of Soulmates’ premise through vignettes that weave together horror, cult fiction, and even explorations of abuse. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Would a Soul Mate Fix Your Anxiety Right Now?," 15 Oct. 2020 That feeling of frustration and anguish shows that the follow-up to the cult classic platformer doesn’t stray far from the original. Gieson Cacho Tribune News Service, Star Tribune, "Video game 'Spelunky 2' stays true to a cult classic," 14 Oct. 2020 According to a chat between Sestero and Nerdist's Lindsey Romain, Flanagan is a huge fan of the cult movie and even wanted to adapt Sestero's book. Rosie Knight, refinery29.com, "Yes, You Really Did See The Guy From The Room In The Haunting of Bly Manor," 9 Oct. 2020 Teresa Tarmey’s cult frozen ball, Stackedskin’s stainless steel solution, and Aceology’s globe massagers (a Tracee Ellis Ross favorite)—all designed to be kept in the freezer before use for the ultimate jolt of blood circulating-cold. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "The Best Skin-Care Tools and Beauty Devices to Start Using This Fall," 7 Oct. 2020 The Hoosier cult hero tweeted out his Venmo account. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "IU, Opendorse partnership set to help athletes cash in. How much can Hoosiers really make?," 5 Oct. 2020 Daybell was a former gravedigger-turned-novelist and podcaster from Rexburg, Idaho, who some say was something of a local cult leader, says Morgan. Jonathan Vigliotti, CBS News, "Chilling details revealed as police investigate deaths of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan," 3 Oct. 2020

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.

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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

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Statistics for cult

Last Updated

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cult.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cult. Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for cult

cult

noun
How to pronounce cult (audio)

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

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