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 Frozen 2 trailer dropped Wednesday (February 13) and the movie already looks like a contender for cult-favorite Disney film. Alexis Jones, Harper's BAZAAR, "Frozen 2: Everything You Need to Know," 14 Feb. 2019 Yep, cult-favorite Urban Decay Cosmetics is adding to the Naked family with a brand new palette design. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Urban Decay is Launching the Naked Reloaded Palette With Bigger Eyeshadow Pans," 13 Feb. 2019 Getty ImagesGeorge Pimentel This is part of why Mulroney is emerging as a cult favorite among royal fans. Michelle Ruiz, Marie Claire, "I Respect Jessica Mulroney's Hustle—and Her Loyalty to Meghan Markle," 18 Dec. 2018 Although his cult largely collapsed after his arrest, some of his loyal followers still maintain his innocence. Christine Pelisek, PEOPLE.com, "The Story Behind a Black Supremacist Cult That Lived in Egyptian-Themed Compound in Rural Georgia," 6 July 2018 Nothing can stop Trump from further dividing the country now, or completely transforming the GOP into his personal, extremist cult. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Anthony Kennedy and the Death of True American Conservatism," 29 June 2018 Surly introduced its cult favorite Pugsley in 2003, followed by big players like Trek and Specialized. Blane Bachelor, Outside Online, "Trek Settles Lawsuit Over Farley Fat-Bike Name," 11 June 2018 Yet the restaurant remains the city’s universal watering hole, its cult following based not on a single dish or drink, but by the sense of comfort and familiarity that comes with dining there. Priya Krishna, Bon Appetit, "The Tex-Mex Chain That Fills a Queso-Sized Hole in My Heart," 6 June 2018 And through her brother’s cult of personality, Linda wants to shine a spotlight back on Coos Bay. Andrew Greif, OregonLive.com, "In intimate tour, Steve Prefontaine's sister shares iconic runner's life story, hometown," 25 May 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

11 Mar 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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