Definition of sect in US English:



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

    • ‘Now: imagine that X is not a religion, but a sect within a religion.’
    • ‘The teachings of these splinter sects did not catch on in any significant way among the Jews.’
    • ‘Did you know that Hasidic Jews are considered a mystical sect of Judaism?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He rattled off the names of various Muslim sects, both Shia and Sunni.’
    • ‘In the U.S., some Protestant fundamentalist sects still ban any shaking of your money maker.’
    • ‘I have visions of his being arrested and incarcerated indefinitely by the Americans, or joining a fundamentalist Sunni sect.’
    • ‘Sadhus belong to many different sects or orders.’
    • ‘From about 100 to 337, the Church in the Empire remained an illegal and persecuted sect.’
    • ‘If small churches and dissenting sects thrived in the slums, the great current was active or passive disbelief.’
    • ‘Later, the contemplation on the nine stages became associated with the Zen sect that focused on meditation practice.’
    • ‘In fact there are groups of vampires that celebrate each religion, all sects of Christianity included.’
    • ‘Christianity originated in the Middle East and was originally a sect of Judaism.’
    • ‘Most of the Korean Buddhists sects were founded after the liberation from the Japanese in 1945.’
    • ‘For instance, there were families, which did not mind much about the brides and bridegrooms belonging to different sects.’
    • ‘One sect believes gay marriage is against religion, so ban it.’
    • ‘Christians had gone astray and corrupted the God's scriptures by dividing into different sects and beliefs.’
    • ‘She also turned to Catholicism and various Christian sects at this time in her search for truth.’
    • ‘The couple have become devotees of the mystical sect of Judaism - Kabbalah.’
    cult, religious cult, religious group, faith community, denomination, persuasion, religious order
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    1. 1.1derogatory A group that has separated from an established Church; a nonconformist Church.
      • ‘As Baptists, our beginnings are traced to dissenting sects of English and European Protestants.’
      • ‘The result was an increasing number of breakaway sects, of which Buddhism and Jainism were probably the most successful.’
      • ‘Scotland was chosen as the film's setting because of its fundamentalist religious sects and remote communities.’
      • ‘The confused situation gave dissenting sects the opportunity to establish themselves.’
      • ‘Three chapters look at various abuses of power by the leaders of newly founded sects.’
      cult, religious cult, religious group, faith community, denomination, persuasion, religious order
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    2. 1.2 A philosophical or political group, especially one regarded as extreme or dangerous.
      • ‘They have tightened security measures to control the influence of extreme political sects among the uprooted multitudes.’
      • ‘First, liberalism is the American sect of the international religion of socialism.’
      • ‘Similarly, those sect members already in Iceland wouldn't have been detained or had their movement restricted.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This was undertaken by far-left groups - small Trotskyist and Maoist sects that were moving far ahead of the mainstream.’


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