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cult

[kuhlt]
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noun
  1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
  2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
  3. the object of such devotion.
  4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
  5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
  6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
  7. the members of such a religion or sect.
  8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.
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adjective
  1. of or relating to a cult.
  2. of, for, or attracting a small group of devotees: a cult movie.
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Origin of cult

1610–20; < Latin cultus habitation, tilling, refinement, worship, equivalent to cul-, variant stem of colere to inhabit, till, worship + -tus suffix of v. action
Related formscul·tic, cul·tu·al [kuhl-choo-uh l] /ˈkʌl tʃu əl/, adjectivecult·ish, adjectivean·ti·cult, noun, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for cult

cult

noun
  1. a specific system of religious worship, esp with reference to its rites and deity
  2. a sect devoted to such a system
  3. a quasi-religious organization using devious psychological techniques to gain and control adherents
  4. sociol a group having an exclusive ideology and ritual practices centred on sacred symbols, esp one characterized by lack of organizational structure
  5. intense interest in and devotion to a person, idea, or activitythe cult of yoga
  6. the person, idea, etc, arousing such devotion
    1. something regarded as fashionable or significant by a particular group
    2. (as modifier)a cult show
  7. (modifier) of, relating to, or characteristic of a cult or cultsa cult figure
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Derived Formscultism, nouncultist, noun

Word Origin

C17: from Latin cultus cultivation, refinement, from colere to till
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cult

n.

1610s, "worship," also "a particular form of worship," from French culte (17c.), from Latin cultus "care, labor; cultivation, culture; worship, reverence," originally "tended, cultivated," past participle of colere "to till" (see colony). Rare after 17c.; revived mid-19c. with reference to ancient or primitive rituals. Meaning "devotion to a person or thing" is from 1829.

Cult. An organized group of people, religious or not, with whom you disagree. [Rawson]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cult in Culture

cult

In anthropology, an organization for the conduct of ritual, magical, or other religious observances. Many so-called primitive tribes, for example, have ancestor cults, in which dead ancestors are considered divine and activities are organized to respect their memory and invoke their aid. A cult is also a religious group held together by a dominant, often charismatic individual, or by the worship of a divinity, an idol, or some other object. (See animism (see also animism), fetish, and totemism.)

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Note

The term cult often suggests extreme beliefs and bizarre behavior.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.