noun, often attributive \ ˈkəlt \
|Updated on: 12 Aug 2018

Definition of cult

1 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious (see spurious 2); also : its body of adherents
  • the voodoo cult
  • a satanic cult
2 a : 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


play \ˈkəl-tik\ adjective


play \ˈkəl-tish\ adjective


play \ˈkəl-tish-lē\ adverb


play \ˈkəl-tish-nəs\ noun


play \ˈkəl-ˌti-zəm\ noun


play \ˈkəl-tist\ noun


play \ˈkəlt-ˌlīk\ adjective

Examples of cult in a Sentence

  1. She has developed a cult following.

  2. long after it had gone off the air, the TV series continued to have a huge cult

Recent Examples of cult from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of cult

French & Latin; French culte, from Latin cultus care, adoration, from colere to cultivate — more at wheel

Other Religion (Eastern and Other) Terms

CULT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of cult for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Dictionary



medical Definition of cult

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