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

The brow pomade is beloved by almost every beauty editor, Insta girl, and millennial on the planet, and has generated a truly cult-like following. Glamour, "We Tried Glossier's New Brow Flick Pen, and It's As Good As Microblading," 12 June 2019 The case garnered national and international headlines that created a cult-like following of a mystery that has haunted Allyn for much of the past 20 years. Miles Blumhardt, The Denver Post, "Jaryd Atadero disappeared on hike near Fort Collins 20 years ago. His father has been looking for answers ever since.," 9 June 2019 While also focused on spinning, SoulCycle amassed a cult-like following for its 45-minute indoor cycling workout in a dark studio set to party music. Sara Ashley O'brien, CNN, "Fitness startup Peloton files to go public," 5 June 2019 Not to be confused with Rajneeshpuram, this is Nantucket—an island with a cult-like following of its own. Jaimie Potters, Marie Claire, "Where to Stay, Eat, and Explore in Nantucket, Massachusetts," 10 May 2019 Still, Glover’s cult-like following and millions of fans are sure to make these sneakers a hit. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Surprise! Donald Glover Drops an Adidas Originals Collection of Canvas Sneakers," 18 Apr. 2019 Museum director Nissim Tal said that he was shocked at the sudden uproar, especially because the exhibit — intended to criticize what many view as society’s cult-like worship of capitalism — had been on display for months. Isabel Debre, The Seattle Times, "‘McJesus’ sculpture sparks outrage among Israel’s Christians," 14 Jan. 2019 Deciem, which sells brands like The Ordinary, was founded in 2013 and expanded beyond Canada into the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere, as its affordable makeup and skin-care products developed a cult-like following. Jaewon Kang, WSJ, "Judge Strips Founder of Deciem Skin-Care Brand of CEO Title, Board Seat," 12 Oct. 2018 The case against Ongwen, now aged about 40, poses difficult questions for judges about whether a boy snatched on his way to primary school and raised in a cult-like group renowned for its brutality can also be considered a perpetrator of crimes. Mike Corder, Fox News, "Defense lawyer casts Ugandan war crimes defendant as victim," 18 Sep. 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.

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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

17 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for cult

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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