Definition of sect in English:



  • 1A group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs (typically regarded as heretical) from those of a larger group to which they belong.

    • ‘The teachings of these splinter sects did not catch on in any significant way among the Jews.’
    • ‘Most of the Korean Buddhists sects were founded after the liberation from the Japanese in 1945.’
    • ‘She also turned to Catholicism and various Christian sects at this time in her search for truth.’
    • ‘The main sects of the Islamic religion practiced in this region are Sunni and Shi'a.’
    • ‘Well, we are still bickering about the rights of the sects of Christianity within our constitution.’
    • ‘Christianity originated in the Middle East and was originally a sect of Judaism.’
    • ‘In the U.S., some Protestant fundamentalist sects still ban any shaking of your money maker.’
    • ‘Did you know that Hasidic Jews are considered a mystical sect of Judaism?’
    • ‘He rattled off the names of various Muslim sects, both Shia and Sunni.’
    • ‘Later, the contemplation on the nine stages became associated with the Zen sect that focused on meditation practice.’
    • ‘One sect believes gay marriage is against religion, so ban it.’
    • ‘Now: imagine that X is not a religion, but a sect within a religion.’
    • ‘For instance, there were families, which did not mind much about the brides and bridegrooms belonging to different sects.’
    • ‘Sadhus belong to many different sects or orders.’
    • ‘Christians had gone astray and corrupted the God's scriptures by dividing into different sects and beliefs.’
    • ‘In fact there are groups of vampires that celebrate each religion, all sects of Christianity included.’
    • ‘I have visions of his being arrested and incarcerated indefinitely by the Americans, or joining a fundamentalist Sunni sect.’
    • ‘The couple have become devotees of the mystical sect of Judaism - Kabbalah.’
    • ‘If small churches and dissenting sects thrived in the slums, the great current was active or passive disbelief.’
    • ‘From about 100 to 337, the Church in the Empire remained an illegal and persecuted sect.’
    cult, religious cult, religious group, faith community, denomination, persuasion, religious order
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1derogatory A group that has separated from an established Church; a nonconformist Church.
      ‘two of the older sects—the Congregationalists and the Baptists—were able to increase their membership dramatically’
      • ‘The confused situation gave dissenting sects the opportunity to establish themselves.’
      • ‘Scotland was chosen as the film's setting because of its fundamentalist religious sects and remote communities.’
      • ‘As Baptists, our beginnings are traced to dissenting sects of English and European Protestants.’
      • ‘Three chapters look at various abuses of power by the leaders of newly founded sects.’
      • ‘The result was an increasing number of breakaway sects, of which Buddhism and Jainism were probably the most successful.’
      cult, religious cult, religious group, faith community, denomination, persuasion, religious order
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A philosophical or political group, especially one regarded as extreme or dangerous.
      ‘a sect of anarchists’
      • ‘The dystopian political program of this utterly marginal, extremist sect has absolutely no traction with anyone of significance.’
      • ‘But his lecture was mainly aimed at a powerful sect called the middle-class liberals.’
      • ‘They have tightened security measures to control the influence of extreme political sects among the uprooted multitudes.’
      • ‘Similarly, those sect members already in Iceland wouldn't have been detained or had their movement restricted.’
      • ‘This was undertaken by far-left groups - small Trotskyist and Maoist sects that were moving far ahead of the mainstream.’
      • ‘First, liberalism is the American sect of the international religion of socialism.’


Middle English: from Old French secte or Latin secta, literally ‘following’, hence ‘faction, party’, from the stem of sequi ‘follow’.