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

The process of making magic pyramid crystals is more of a hobby than a cult practice. refinery29.com, "Kylie Jenner, Crystals & Cults: Inside The Mysterious Orgonite Society," 13 July 2018 This year, documentaries and dramatic adaptations have retold the cult tragedies of the Branch Davidians in Texas and the Rajneeshees in Oregon. Andrew R. Chow, New York Times, "What’s on TV Friday: ‘Operation Thai Cave Rescue’ and Jim Jefferies," 13 July 2018 How exactly did a gun manufacturer in Pike County linked to an alleged cult become a required stop for Republican candidates? Chris Brennan, Philly.com, "Nancy Pelosi pals around with convicted tax dodger at Dems fundraiser in Philly," 13 July 2018 The fact that all eight of the scheduled opening performers qualify as cult acts with relatively small followings may have served to dampen advance ticket sales. George Varga, sandiegouniontribune.com, "91X cancels X-Fest 2018, which was to have been headlined by Beck and Death Cab for Cutie," 12 July 2018 Members of Aum Shinrikyo, an apocalyptic cult, had released nerve gas on the Tokyo subway. The Economist, "On the hanging of Shoko Asahara, Japan’s nerve-gas guru," 12 July 2018 After the cult success of Shallow Grave, film director Danny Boyle was enjoying mainstream success with Trainspotting. Jonathan Wilson, SI.com, "England's World Cup Run, Southgate Represent More for a Nation in Political Upheaval," 12 July 2018 Many of my friends are rejecting their old religion and turning to strange new cults. Art Hoppe, SFChronicle.com, "Chronicle classic: The mightiest nation, Art Hoppe, 1987," 12 July 2018 The cult favorite liquid liner was introduced a full 10 years ago, and it's been known to stay put through tears, pools, and even a car accident with a subsequent trip the emergency room. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Kat Von D Is Adding Three New Formulas to Her Trooper Tattoo Liner Range," 10 July 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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Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

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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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