Definition of cult in US English:

cult

noun

  • 1A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.

    ‘the cult of St. Olaf’
    • ‘The cult image of Artemis was brought out from the inner sanctum and, gilded and white, shone brilliantly in the morning sun.’
    • ‘The support for Mary, a universal saint, may sometimes have been at the expense of local cults, making Marian devotions a central element in the progress of ultramontanism.’
    • ‘As he notes, cults of holy images have been the subject of a long debate in Christianity.’
    • ‘The cult of saints and their relics explains the popularity of pilgrimage.’
    • ‘At least one underground temple catacomb has been associated with the cult of a Mother Goddess.’
    • ‘The cult of the ancestors is practiced among many of the ethnic groups.’
    • ‘Monks promoted the cult of their own saints and could write disparagingly of others.’
    • ‘The pre-Christian religion of the Fijians was both animistic and polytheistic, and included a cult of chiefly ancestors.’
    1. 1.1 A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.
      ‘a network of Satan-worshiping cults’
      • ‘These people include evangelical lay preachers, religious leaders associated with New Age religions, and leaders of religious movements designated as cults.’
      • ‘I heard that it had something to do with some kind of satanic cult.’
      • ‘The street urchins lived in fear of some strange murderous cult.’
      • ‘In all of the cults, the killing of pigs was a major part of the cult activities.’
      • ‘There were moments when I thought he would try to get me to join a bizarre gullibility cult.’
      • ‘Maybe our whole culture is a destructive suicide cult.’
      • ‘He even started a Sufi cult under his name that became also a place for mystics from different faiths too.’
      • ‘His characters have run for president, hacked the New York Stock Exchange and joined the occasional religious cult.’
      • ‘He also quotes a writer in 1939, who read a scene of nude figures carved upon a bowl as representing worshippers in a mystery cult.’
      • ‘And their world view became embodied in a pagan cult.’
      • ‘The promotion of the generative powers of earth, water, and human, animal, and fish populations is a common concern of major religions and small-scale cults the world over.’
      • ‘The mystery cults usually enforced certain dietary rules and also required participation in various rites.’
      • ‘He was not a common madman who thought he was God and established a cult dedicated to the veneration of himself.’
      • ‘Certain cults and religious specialists gain popularity beyond the local level because people feel that they can offer effective help for certain problems.’
      • ‘Will witches, cults, and strange religions soon get taxpayers' dollars?’
      • ‘The belief system of many modern cults and spiritual groups is a hodgepodge conglomeration of ideas from religion, philosophy, psychology, the occult, and science.’
      • ‘This definition actually denotes what we call denominations and sects and would make all religious movements a cult.’
      • ‘A culture of peace, life and beauty became a suicide cult.’
      • ‘Society suffers from dangerous sects and cults, militia movements, media control, and misrepresentations of psychiatric treatment and mental disorders.’
      • ‘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.’
      sect, religious group, denomination, religious order, church, faith, faith community, belief, persuasion, affiliation, movement
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.
      ‘a cult of personality surrounding the leaders’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘The industry is feeding the cult of personality to these architect winemakers.’
      • ‘In stark contrast to so many other dictators, he never encouraged a cult of personality.’
      • ‘Or perhaps they center too much on the cult of personality from the opposing side.’
      • ‘It is a very short step from institutionalised demonstrations of national loyalty to a mindless cult of ‘my country right or wrong’.’
      • ‘Accordingly some aspects of domestic rectitude predated the cult of domesticity.’
      • ‘He liked the comparison, and believes firmly in the cult of the personality as a valuable element in business development.’
      • ‘However, the cult of the business personality was, in part, designed to serve as a distraction.’
      • ‘Media-orchestrated cults of personality and shameless historical revisionism, they already know about.’
      • ‘The nineteenth century cult of domesticity located its origin in this revolutionary development.’
      • ‘He brooked no rivals, anointed no successors and developed a cult of personality that was indivisible from his people's hopes.’
      • ‘The modern cult of the television celebrity… tends to handicap a living candidate.’
      • ‘During and after the war, a highly developed personality cult evolved.’
      • ‘The latter resonates with equal amounts of wry self-reflexivity and acknowledgement of issues concerning representation and cults of personality.’
      • ‘Every President colludes with the American people to create his own cult of personality.’
      • ‘Racial and sexual politics as well as the cult of celebrity get the treatment.’
      • ‘Still others have cautioned against the spate of monuments that they see as celebrating the cult of the personality.’
      • ‘With the cult of the personality now stronger than at any time in sport, sports companies have tried to associate themselves with successes that are viewed worldwide.’
      • ‘However, as this was primarily based on a cult of personality, it was inevitably short lived.’
      obsession with, fixation on, mania for, passion for
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3usually as modifier A person or thing that is popular or fashionable, especially among a particular section of society.
      ‘a cult film’
      • ‘As an aside, does a film adaptation of a cult or popular novel fall into the same area as is under discussion here?’
      • ‘The film developed a sizable cult following, however, particularly in the comedy and hip-hop communities.’
      • ‘The most famous of the Pop artists, the cult figure Andy Warhol, recreated quasi-photographic paintings of people or everyday objects.’
      • ‘A cult figure to the masses, controversies dogged him after that fantastic debut.’
      • ‘In the US she's now a cult figure with a discography to match.’
      • ‘The cult following these films now carry is spectacular and deserved.’
      • ‘The in-jokes which helped to make the series such a cult hit among film buffs are also in abundance.’
      • ‘He has invigorated an apathetic fan base and developed a cult following among a student body that rarely showed its face in previous years.’
      • ‘In an all girls school a young reasonably good looking man had cult status.’
      • ‘Find out what's new on DVD, including a ' 60s cult TV classic.’
      • ‘Mostly we picked out horror movies - Bruce seemed to specialize in finding the most bizarre cult films available.’
      • ‘It said the BBC commentator had become a cult figure because of his ‘dry comments and lack of restraint’.’
      • ‘He is a cult figure today whose books are expensive collectors' items.’
      • ‘The company's ads have gained a cult following among advertisers and laymen alike.’
      • ‘In its original weekday time slot, the show became an enormous cult hit.’
      • ‘So the combination of being a heavy drinker, vastly overweight and a smoker - yes, he smoked as well - made him a cult figure on the circuit.’
      • ‘Shooting took about a month and the film became a cult classic among many people.’
      • ‘Gleeful nastiness has pervaded and polluted both his plays and movies, and, sad to say, made him a cult figure.’
      • ‘It did remarkably well at the box office, and garnered a strong cult following among college-age Americans.’
      • ‘You do have a rabid cult following.’
      craze, fashion, fad, vogue
      View synonyms

Origin

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.

Pronunciation

cult

/kəlt//kəlt/