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

Archaeological evidence shows the presence of a bear cult having existed 10,000 years ago in what is now Switzerland. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "New book explores mankind’s fascination with bears, from Stone Age to 'Winnie the Pooh’," 31 Aug. 2019 Other students have called it a phenomenon, a spectacle, a cult, and a lifestyle. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, "How Harvard’s Most Popular Class Became a ‘Lifestyle’," 29 Aug. 2019 Starting in 1966, thousands of young Red Guards persecuted millions with imprisonment, torture, public humiliation and property seizures in struggles to create a Maoist cult of personality. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Sidney Rittenberg, Idealistic American Aide to Mao Who Evolved to Counsel Capitalists, Dies at 98," 24 Aug. 2019 With quite the cult following, this serum from Sunday Riley claims to clarify and smooth the skin using lactic acid, brighten the appearance of dark spots with licorice and lemongrass extracts, and soothe redness with prickly pear extract. Jessica Kasparian, USA TODAY, "15 must-have beauty products that are finally on sale—this weekend only," 17 Aug. 2019 The campy cult musical centers around a girl’s boarding school, which decides to stage a performance of the novel in its swimming pool to save the school from bankruptcy. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "There Is Going to be a ‘Moby-Dick’ Musical," 9 Aug. 2019 In just a few short months our Wednesday night will be filled with angsty teens, murderous family members, and creepy cults, and all will, once again, feel right in the world. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "The "Riverdale" Cast Remembers Luke Perry As They Begin Filming Season Four," 9 July 2019 The latest piece of proof: Alpha Protocol, a messy but well-loved cult classic role-playing game created by Obsidian Entertainment, has been de-listed from Steam, meaning it can no longer be purchased. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "Electronic Arts Says That Loot Boxes Are Basically Kinder Eggs," 21 June 2019 That news, plus a new Lego Star Wars, an Old Republic expansion and potential film adaptation, details for Netflix’s Witcher series, a remake of cult classic shooter XIII, and more. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Lego Star Wars returns, Ubisoft gives away Assassin's Creed: Unity after Notre Dame fire," 15 Apr. 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

9 Sep 2019

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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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