Definition of cult in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /kʌlt/


1A system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object: the cult of St Olaf
More example sentences
  • The pre-Christian religion of the Fijians was both animistic and polytheistic, and included a cult of chiefly ancestors.
  • The cult of the ancestors is practiced among many of the ethnic groups.
  • As he notes, cults of holy images have been the subject of a long debate in Christianity.
1.1A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members: a network of Satan-worshipping cults
More example sentences
  • The loss of life was terrible, but it was no more than one in a series of occasional tragedies caused by the misguided beliefs of cults and their members.
  • Will witches, cults, and strange religions soon get taxpayers' dollars?
  • Society suffers from dangerous sects and cults, militia movements, media control, and misrepresentations of psychiatric treatment and mental disorders.
sect, religious group, denomination, religious order, church, faith, faith community, belief, persuasion, affiliation, movement;
group, body, faction, clique
1.2A misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular thing: the cult of the pursuit of money as an end in itself
More example sentences
  • The fellow with the Village People mustache, who wears a white dress shirt and tie, is being marketed as a cult of personality.
  • Does it bother you that there's a cult of personality built up around him?
  • Or perhaps they center too much on the cult of personality from the opposing side.
idolization of, admiration for, devotion to, worship of, veneration of, reverence for
2A person or thing that is popular or fashionable among a particular group or section of society: the series has become a bit of a cult in the UK [as modifier]: a cult film
More example sentences
  • It did remarkably well at the box office, and garnered a strong cult following among college-age Americans.
  • The company's ads have gained a cult following among advertisers and laymen alike.
  • Shooting took about a month and the film became a cult classic among many people.
craze, fashion, fad, vogue
informal thing



Example sentences
  • This cultic resonance is recognized by his followers.
  • But it is revealing that such pagan theological speculation was confined to philosophy, and the traditional cultic systems carried on for centuries irrespective of these philosophical discussions.
  • Much pre-Christian paganism, in fact, had not even advanced to the point where cultic ritual was combined with an interest in ethical or philosophical questions of goodness and right and truth.


Example sentences
  • I was unfamiliar with these guys, and if you'd asked me to categorize their sound based on name alone, I'd have guessed they were one of those bluegrass groups beloved by cultish country aficionados and nobody else.
  • Such a pompous patriarchal prerogative recalls the utopian communes that sprang up in America in the 19th century around the cultish figure of an inspired leader, many of whom gleefully devoted themselves to the practice of free love.
  • The following behavior changes do not necessarily imply there is a cult problem, but if someone you know has become deeply involved with a new group or organization and exhibits many of these changes it may indicate a cultish involvement.


Example sentences
  • It will doubtless push him beyond the high-end cultishness that currently defines his popularity; an exhaustive BBC documentary about his life and work, due to be shown in the next few weeks, should only compound its impact.
  • Here's where the academy's cultishness emerges most strongly - because it's an institution where you can only fail yourself and your leaders.
  • That update of a stylish 60s cult show lacked the, well, style and cultishness of the original.


Example sentences
  • Paying a fake rabbi to tie a red string around your wrist is not Jewish mysticism - it is superstitious cultism.
  • He must snap out of the cocoon of cultism and accept that it's time to hand on to his successor.
  • In each of these cases and many others the crucial distinction is that the passion for cinema reaches a point where it must manifest itself in some way beyond mere attendance at screenings, be it cultism, criticism, or film-making.


Example sentences
  • Although never cultists, major artists endorsed industrialisation in the 1920s, and endeavoured to make men glad cogs in the gigantic industrial machine.
  • We were alarmed at the sophistication of the weapons in possession of the cultists.
  • Unfortunately, the instrumentalists and machine cultists seem to be winning, further delegitimating the worthiness and utility of critical thinking.


Early 17th century (originally denoting homage paid to a divinity): from French culte or Latin cultus 'worship', from cult- 'inhabited, cultivated, worshipped', from the verb colere.

Words that rhyme with cult

consult, exult, indult, insult, penult, result, ult

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cult

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.