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
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

The series turns 25 today and remains a cult favorite two decades after its tragic cancellation after just three seasons. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Ars celebrates 25 years of The Tick by picking our top ten favorite episodes," 10 Sep. 2019 The film became a cult favorite as an expression of the Beat philosophy of improvisation and spontaneity even though, as Leslie later revealed, it was planned and rehearsed. Philip Gefter, New York Times, "Robert Frank Dies; Pivotal Documentary Photographer Was 94," 10 Sep. 2019 Besides his still photography, Frank was a prolific filmmaker, creating more than 30 movies and videos, including a cult favorite about the Beats and a graphic, censored documentary of the Rolling Stones’ 1972 tour. Hillel Italie, Twin Cities, "Groundbreaking photographer Robert Frank dies at age 94," 10 Sep. 2019 Wet n Wild, which has long been a cult favorite among broke teenagers and anyone else who balks at the idea of shelling out $39 for eyeshadow, told users on Twitter that its palette would retail for $25 to $29. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "James Charles accuses Wet n Wild of copying his eyeshadow palette," 7 Sep. 2019 The cult-favorite fitness firm—valued at $8 billion—specializes in streaming live, at-home cycling and running classes on a subscription basis. Sangeeta Singh-kurtz, Quartz, "Peloton is just Spotify, if Spotify mailed you a bike," 28 Aug. 2019 Le French, 4901 S. Newport St., Denver, 720-710-8963, lefrenchdenver.com Atop souffle This month, this Capitol Hill restaurant’s cult-favorite cheese souffle is made with corn, peach salsa and a tomato-peach emulsion. Josie Sexton, The Know, "From peach foie gras to boozy slushies, 20 ways to eat peaches at Denver restaurants right now," 28 Aug. 2019 Alton Brown‘s cult-favorite show is coming back to the Food Network on August 25 after seven years off the air. Ana Calderone, PEOPLE.com, "Watch an Exclusive Clip of Alton Brown's Long-Awaited Good Eats: The Return," 21 Aug. 2019 The Bucks and the state's cult-favorite gas station and convenience store Kwik Trip partnered up on the chocolate milk, the pair announced in a news release Wednesday. Sarah Hauer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Milwaukee Bucks and Kwik Trip are coming out with a chocolate milk because it's Wisconsin," 21 Aug. 2019

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

7 Oct 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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