cult

noun, often attributive
\ ˈkəlt \

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 \ adjective
cultish \ ˈkəl-​tish \ adjective
cultishly \ ˈkəl-​tish-​lē \ adverb
cultishness \ ˈkəl-​tish-​nəs \ noun
cultism \ ˈkəl-​ˌti-​zəm \ noun
cultist \ ˈkəl-​tist \ noun
cultlike \ ˈkəlt-​ˌlīk \ 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

La Prairie’s latest addition to the brand’s cult Platinum collection glides on as a silky, post-cleansing lotion to rejuvenate and protect skin. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "13 New Beauty Products Worth the Hype in 2019," 9 Jan. 2019 Now, thrust into the wide world, the rabbits encounter one danger after another, from creepy rabbit cults to a murder of killer crows to a scary authoritarian rabbit labor camp. Aja Romano, Vox, "Netflix’s new Watership Down proves the beloved children’s classic was a horror story all along," 30 Dec. 2018 The bedding brand has developed a cult-following, receiving especially promising reviews. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "7 Things You Should Know Before Buying Brooklinen Bedding," 11 Dec. 2018 The cult of youth is such a powerful, American thing. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why Amazon is a ‘bully,’ and Facebook and Google are ‘the enemies of independent thought’," 3 Dec. 2018 These three-wick cult favorite candles smell as pretty as their packaging looks. Erin Nicole Celletti, Teen Vogue, "7 Fall Candles Under $60," 16 Nov. 2018 Luckily, people have come to realize this cult film's genius over time. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The Hardest 'Hocus Pocus' Trivia Quiz You'll Ever Take," 28 Sep. 2018 Additionally, the cult classic prominently featured Buffy’s best friend, a powerful witch named Willow, who was the lynchpin in almost every one of Buffy’s plans to best evil-doers. Kelsea Stahler, Teen Vogue, "The Resurgence of Witches in Pop Culture Like Sabrina, AHS "Coven," and "Charmed" Reflects Women in the Real World," 14 Nov. 2018 Kim rules a totalitarian regime with a cult of personality. Andrew Kydd, Washington Post, "Promises on North Korea are easy to make but hard to keep. Here’s why.," 7 June 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.

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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

14 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for cult

The first known use of cult was in 1613

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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 

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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

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