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See more synonyms for sect on Thesaurus.com
  1. a body of persons adhering to a particular religious faith; a religious denomination.
  2. a group regarded as heretical or as deviating from a generally accepted religious tradition.
  3. (in the sociology of religion) a Christian denomination characterized by insistence on strict qualifications for membership, as distinguished from the more inclusive groups called churches.
  4. any group, party, or faction united by a specific doctrine or under a doctrinal leader.
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Origin of sect

1300–50; Middle English secte < Latin secta something to follow, pathway, course of conduct, school of thought, probably noun derivative of sectārī to pursue, accompany, wait upon, frequentative of sequī to follow
Related formssub·sect, nounun·der·sect, noun
Can be confusedsects sex


  1. a combining form with the meaning “cut,” used in the formation of compound words bisect, dissect, exsect.
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Origin of -sect

< Latin sectus, past participle of secāre “to cut”


  1. section.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for sect

faith, faction, creed, denomination, religion, church, cult, division, school, persuasion, group, camp, crew, connection, communion, team, following, party, wing, order

Examples from the Web for sect

Contemporary Examples of sect

Historical Examples of sect

British Dictionary definitions for sect


  1. a subdivision of a larger religious group (esp the Christian Church as a whole) the members of which have to some extent diverged from the rest by developing deviating beliefs, practices, etc
  2. often derogatory
    1. a schismatic religious body characterized by an attitude of exclusivity in contrast to the more inclusive religious groups called denominations or Churches
    2. a religious group regarded as extreme or heretical
  3. a group of people with a common interest, doctrine, etc; faction
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Word Origin for sect

C14: from Latin secta faction, following, from the stem of sequī to follow


combining form
  1. to cut or divide, esp into a specified number of partstrisect
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Word Origin for -sect

from Latin sectus cut, from secāre to cut; see saw 1
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 sect


mid-14c., "distinctive system of beliefs or observances; party or school within a religion," from Old French secte, sete "sect, religious community," or directly from Late Latin secta "religious group, sect in philosophy or religion," from Latin secta "manner, mode, following, school of thought," literally "a way, road, beaten path," from fem. of sectus, variant past participle of sequi "follow," from PIE *sekw- (1) "to follow" (see sequel). Confused in this sense with Latin secta, fem. past participle of secare "to cut" (see section (n.)). Meaning "separately organized religious body" is recorded from 1570s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sect in Culture


A religious group, especially one that has separated from a larger group. Sect is often a term of disapproval.

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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.