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 cult of the central banker grew out of a search for a solution to the great inflation of the 1960s and ’70s. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "The Fall of the Priesthood of Central Banking," 12 July 2019 Get our daily newsletter Welcome to the cult of wellness, a phenomenon of mind-and-body worship that is moving beyond the boutique to shake up industries from health, food and beauty to insurance and property. The Economist, "The business of the body," 11 July 2019 The cult around him was raised to destroy and weaken the bonds of family. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Pavlik Morozov Is the Patron Saint of Cancel Culture," 2 July 2019 Amid all the noise at a network often preoccupied with bells and whistles, Ley stood apart from the cult of personality, digging into the toughest issues in our games in an even-handed, balanced way. Tara Sullivan, BostonGlobe.com, "World Cup, Wimbledon: These are a few of my favorite things," 29 June 2019 First there was Mystery Science Theater 3000, the cable-access cult hit turned Comedy Central series that became an unexpected career for its hosts and creators. John Wenzel, The Know, "Mile High Movie Roast’s farewell marks end of era for B-movie comedy," 23 June 2019 But the sequel to the cult classic Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines does not. Brittany Vincent, Popular Mechanics, "The 10 Best Games of E3 2019," 15 June 2019 Pathologic 2 is the remake/sequel to the cult classic Russian plague simulator, Pathologic. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "Pathologic 2 and What Games Can Learn From Low-Tech Art," 7 June 2019 The cult South Park pizza and pasta restaurant takes over the historic El Cordova Garage to bring its Neapolitan and Roman pies to the island. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Why Coronado is San Diego County’s next A-list dining destination," 6 June 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

15 Jul 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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