\ ˈsekt How to pronounce sect (audio) \

Definition of sect

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a dissenting or schismatic religious body especially : one regarded as extreme or heretical
b : a religious denomination
2 archaic : sex sense 1 so is all her sect— William Shakespeare
3a : a group adhering to a distinctive doctrine or to a leader
b : party
c : faction

Definition of sect (Entry 2 of 2)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for sect

Synonyms: Noun

bloc, block, body, coalition, faction, party, set, side, wing

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of sect in a Sentence


one sect of medical researchers holds the minority view that the disease is not caused by that virus

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Almost every different sect was represented except for the Muslims. Osita Nwanevu, The New Yorker, "Cutouts of J.F.K., Jr., Tanks, and Adulation at Trump’s “Salute to America”," 6 July 2019 Their community of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Walton, which runs the two schools, belongs to the Society of St. Pius X, a conservative sect that venerates the Latin Mass and rejects Vatican II. Anne Saker,, "Vaccines: Kentucky students lose appeal of ban during chickenpox outbreak," 1 July 2019 En route to the shrine, meet a local Shugendo priest to learn firsthand about this ascetic Buddhist sect that focuses on the connections between humans and nature, and pass under the majestic Oyunohara torii (wooden gateway). National Geographic, "Japan: Hiking and Cultural Adventure," 12 June 2019 That support stretched beyond his base to other minority sects in Syria and some middle- and upper-class Sunnis who regard his family rule as a bulwark of stability in the face of Islamic radicals. Sarah El Deeb, The Seattle Times, "Syria’s Assad: Last man standing amid new Arab uprisings," 13 Apr. 2019 The New Testament is a first- and second-century CE compendium of writings from an originally Jewish, but later predominantly Gentile, sect in the eastern Mediterranean—one that evolved into one of the most successful faiths in the world. John Barton, Time, "Judaism and Christianity Both Rely on the Hebrew Bible. Why Do They Interpret It So Differently?," 14 June 2019 The Modzitzer sect, based in Bnei Brak, Israel, is famous in the Jewish world for soulful melodies, sometimes plaintive and sometimes joyous. Joseph Berger, New York Times, "Velvel Pasternak, Preserver of Hasidic Music, Is Dead at 85," 12 June 2019 Hippasus was a member of the Pythagorean brotherhood, a sect that held that the world is structured by whole numbers and their ratios. Amir Alexander, WSJ, "‘The Universe Speaks in Numbers’ Review: The Inner Observatory," 7 June 2019 Discontent in Sweida, home mostly to the country’s minority Druze religious sect, has been building since an unusually bloody series of Islamic State attacks in July. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, "Islamic State Warns of Hostage Executions to Slow Assad Offensive," 4 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sect.' 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 sect


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sect


Middle English secte, from Anglo-French & Late Latin & Latin; Anglo-French, group, faction, from Late Latin secta organized ecclesiastical body, from Latin, course of action, way of life, probably from sectari to pursue, frequentative of sequi to follow — more at sue

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sect

Statistics for sect

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sect

The first known use of sect was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sect



English Language Learners Definition of sect

: a religious group that is a smaller part of a larger group and whose members all share similar beliefs
: a religious or political group that is connected to a larger group but that has beliefs that differ greatly from those of the main group


\ ˈsekt How to pronounce sect (audio) \

Kids Definition of sect

: a group within a religion which has a special set of teachings or a special way of doing things

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on sect

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sect

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sect

Spanish Central: Translation of sect

Nglish: Translation of sect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sect for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about sect

Comments on sect

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


characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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