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 Instant Pot Duo 6 Qt Pressure Cooker—$49 at Walmart (Save $50.95): The cult favorite Instant Pot is down to its lowest price. Courtney Campbell, USA TODAY, "Black Friday is here—these are the best deals you can get," 29 Nov. 2019 Most of David Lynch’s fans know him for his cult-favorite movies like Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, and Mulholland Drive or the TV series Twin Peaks. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "David Lynch Loves Electricity, and That's Why He Started Designing Lamps," 13 Nov. 2019 Like all of cult-favorite beauty brand LilyAna Naturals’ products, the all-natural formula is a key part of what brings buyers back over and over again. Braelyn Wood,, "This ‘Magic’ Anti-Aging Eye Cream Will Banish Wrinkles and Dark Circles," 12 Nov. 2019 But the legacy of the cult favorite Star Wars character lives on—and Disney’s new streaming service hinges on that legacy being a major draw for subscribers. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "The successful launch of Disney+ depends on the legacy of Boba Fett," 11 Nov. 2019 In the three years that have followed, the window has become a cult favorite in downtown Napa. Matt Villano,, "The latest Napa food trend: takeout windows," 16 Oct. 2019 Julia went on to star as Elaine Benes for nine seasons on the cult favorite Seinfeld, while Brad pursued different acting opportunities on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Samantha Hunter, Good Housekeeping, "'Veep' Star Julia Louis-Dreyfus Was "Miserable" at 'SNL' Even Though She Was With Her Husband," 22 Sep. 2019 The media giant launched its new streaming service today, opening a vault of cult classics—from The Parent Trap to Ratatouille—for your viewing pleasure. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Watch All Your Favorite Disney Classics Through Disney+," 12 Nov. 2019 But the soul of the place is horror, mostly the obscure stuff and cult classics hardcore fans seek. Christopher Spat,, "GrindHouse Video in Tampa survives by selling cult movies so bad they’re good," 11 Nov. 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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Learn More about cult

Statistics for cult

Last Updated

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Cult.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 9 December 2019.

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More Definitions for cult


How to pronounce cult (audio)

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 Encyclopedia article about cult

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