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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Deciem expanded beyond Canada into the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere, as its affordable makeup and skin-care products developed a cult following. Jaewon Kang, WSJ, "Deciem Founder Brandon Truaxe Has Died," 21 Jan. 2019 When the Adidas Yeezy made its debut in 2015, the company released it in very limited quantities, and the scarcity of the product helped to give the shoes a cult following. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Why Yeezys, a brand based on exclusivity, are suddenly so easy to buy," 21 Sep. 2018 In the four years since bedding company Brooklinen launched, the brand's earned a cult following for its silky-soft sheets and comforters, all sold at prices that seemed too good to be true. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Here's Why The Prices Of Brooklinen's Cotton Sheets Are Increasing," 4 Sep. 2018 China’s Lao Gan Ma brand Sichuan chile crisp lately has achieved cult status here. Providence Cicero, The Seattle Times, "Chester Gerl’s versatile, crunchy salsa macha is so much more than a chip dip," 2 Jan. 2019 Elsewhere on the site worth stocking up on is Fresh's cult-favorite face masks. Jillian Ruffo, Glamour, "Meghan Markle's Favorite $20 Lip Balm Is on Sale Right Now," 30 Nov. 2018 La Prairie’s latest addition to the brand’s cult Platinum collection glides on as a silky, post-cleansing lotion to rejuvenate and protect skin. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "13 New Beauty Products Worth the Hype in 2019," 9 Jan. 2019 Now, thrust into the wide world, the rabbits encounter one danger after another, from creepy rabbit cults to a murder of killer crows to a scary authoritarian rabbit labor camp. Aja Romano, Vox, "Netflix’s new Watership Down proves the beloved children’s classic was a horror story all along," 30 Dec. 2018 The bedding brand has developed a cult-following, receiving especially promising reviews. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "7 Things You Should Know Before Buying Brooklinen Bedding," 11 Dec. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cult

Statistics for cult

Last Updated

11 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cult

The first known use of cult was in 1613

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on cult

What made you want to look up cult? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

irregularly rounded

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!