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

Here's hoping this means Riverdale will get its own cult—that may be the only thing this creepy town is missing. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Everything You Need to Know About 'Riverdale' Season 3," 24 July 2018 Just prior to the game's start, his cult has become hostile, abducting locals and brainwashing them with a drug called Bliss, closing off Hope County in a Cliven Bundy-esque standoff with the rest of the state. Joshua Rivera, GQ, "Far Cry 5 Review: Finally, a Video Game for Cowards," 2 Apr. 2018 Gabriela Hearst’s satin trousers and blazers have earned her a cult following, and Simon Porte Jacquemus’s ivory wide-leg trousers and a sultry halter are worthy of a beach wedding. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Wedding-Worthy Looks for Every Type of Bride, Fresh Off the Fall 2019 Runways," 11 Apr. 2019 Unlike the network's other cult drama, The Village is centered on an unconventional family of neighbors who live in the same Brooklyn apartment building (called The Village, for obvious reasons). Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "The Cast of 'The Village' Will Apparently Make You Cry Even Harder Than 'This Is Us'," 19 Mar. 2019 From cult favorite makeup brands to life changing skin care products, there’s something for everyone to stock up on. Teen Vogue, "The 21 Best Deals from Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty Sale," 17 Mar. 2019 It's been under a year since Netflix reacquainted us with the saga of Rajneeshpuram, the enigmatic cult city lead by spiritual guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh—and with Ma Anand Sheela, his Machiavellian assistant. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Priyanka Chopra Is Developing a Wild Wild Country Movie. Here's What We Know So Far.," 31 Jan. 2019 And then there's the cult indie hit Polytopia, which is also stripped down but elegant as can be. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Review: Civilization VI on the iPhone is the full experience," 4 Oct. 2018 In her heyday, the 1968 Playmate of the Year was best friends with actress Sharon Tate, the most notorious victim of Charles Manson’s cult killing spree in 1969. Fox News, "8 Playmate scandals revealed," 16 Aug. 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

6 May 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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