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
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 It's been mostly bad news for retailers lately (see J.Crew, Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, etc) but at least one cult-favorite bargain peddler is poised to emerge relatively unscathed from the corona-recession. Allison Morrow, CNN, "SpaceX gets ready for a do-over, and 4 other business stories you can't miss today," 29 May 2020 The cult of cost/benefit—of the profit motive made granular, cellular—not only trivializes but also attacks whatever resists its terms. Marilynne Robinson, The New York Review of Books, "What Kind of Country Do We Want?," 27 May 2020 The platform will also premiere a second season of DC Comics web series Doom Patrol, a third season of the TBS cult comedy Search Party, and a docuseries on comedian and actress Amy Schumer. Aric Jenkins, Fortune, "Inside HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s multibillion-dollar bet on its streaming future," 27 May 2020 The Lovebirds, directed by Michael Showalter (who previously made The Big Sick, featuring Nanjiani, and co-wrote the cult favorite Wet Hot American Summer), has a nutty, loose-jointed spirit. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "The Lovebirds Is a Delightful Screwball Comedy Elevated by the Charms of Its Leading Duo," 21 May 2020 The coronavirus lockdown has given the platform unexpected cache, a cult appeal. Alexis Okeowo, The New Yorker, "The Fragile Existence of Sex Workers During the Pandemic," 21 May 2020 But, there are still plenty of cult brands like Augustinus Bader and Dr. Barbara Sturm eligible for the discount. Karina Hoshikawa, refinery29.com, "Violet Grey’s Memorial Day Sale Already Started — & The Savings Are Epic," 19 May 2020 This memoir, by the lead singer of the indie band the Airborne Toxic Event, is far from your standard rock autobiography, and no wonder: Jollett was born into a violent cult and overcame a chaotic youth. New York Times, "New & Noteworthy, From a Rock Memoir to Chinese Surrealism," 19 May 2020 Buy now: $353, farfetch.com Long Sleeve Embroidered Hoodie by Stone Island The cult streetwear brand adds flair to the everyday cotton hoodie with its signature embroidered lettering and instantly recognizable logo design that appears at the elbow. Dan Q. Dao, Condé Nast Traveler, "Travel-Friendly Streetwear We're Shopping for Right Now," 18 May 2020

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

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cult.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cult. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for cult

cult

noun
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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about cult

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