Cult Wiki - What is the cult?

In modern English, the term cult has come to usually refer to a social group defined by its unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or its common interest in a particular personality, object or goal. This sense of the term is controversial and it has divergent definitions in both popular culture and academia and it also has been an ongoing source of contention among scholars across several fields of study. It is usually considered pejorative. In the sociological classifications of religious movements, a cult is a social group with socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices, although this is often unclear. Other researchers present a less-organized picture of cults, saying that they arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices. Groups said to be cults range in size from local groups with a few members to international organizations with millions.An older sense of the word cult—covered in a different article—is a set of religious devotional practices that are conventional within their culture and related to a particular figure, and often associated with a particular place. References to the "cult" of, for example, a particular Catholic saint, or the imperial cult of ancient Rome, use this sense of the word. Beginning in the 1930s, cults became the object of sociological study in the context of the study of religious behavior. From the 1940s the Christian countercult movement has opposed some sects and new religious movements, and it labelled them as cults for their "un-Christian" unorthodox beliefs. The secular anti-cult movement began in the 1970s and it opposed certain groups, often charging them with mind control and partly motivated in reaction to acts of violence committed by some of their members. Some of the claims and actions of the anti-cult movement have been disputed by scholars and by the news media, leading to further public controversy. The term "new religious movement" refers to religions which have appeared since the mid-1800s. Many, but not all of them, have been considered to be cults. Sub-categories of cults include: Doomsday cults, personality cults, political cults, destructive cults, racist cults, polygamist cults, and terrorist cults. Various national governments have reacted to cult-related issues in different ways, and this has sometimes led to controversy. English-speakers originally used the word "cult" not to describe a group of religionists, but to refer to the act of worship or to a religious ceremony. The English term originated in the early 17th century, borrowed via the French culte, from the Latin noun cultus (worship). The word ultimately derived from the Latin adjective cultus (inhabited, cultivated, worshipped), based on the verb colere (to care, to cultivate).While the literal original sense of the word in English remains in use, a derived sense of "excessive devotion" arose in the 19th century. The terms cult and cultist came into use in medical literature in the United States in the 1930s for what would now be termed "faith healing", especially as practised in the US Holiness movement. This usage experienced a surge of popularity at the time, and extended to other forms of alternative medicine as well.In the English-speaking world the word "cult" often carries derogatory connotations. It has always been controversial because it is (in a pejorative sense) considered a subjective term, used as an ad hominem attack against groups with differing doctrines or practices.In the 1970s, with the rise of secular anti-cult movements, scholars (but not the general public) began abandoning the term "cult". According to The Oxford Handbook of Religious Movements, "by the end of the decade, the term 'new religions' would virtually replace 'cult' to describe all of those leftover groups that did not fit easily under the label of church or sect.".

What does the word cult mean? Find synonyms, antonyms and the meaning of the word cult in our free online dictionary! Find words starting with cult and anagrams of cult.

Definitions of "cult"

  • A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader. noun
  • The followers of such a religion or sect. noun
  • A system or community of religious worship and ritual. noun
  • The formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual. noun
  • A usually nonscientific method or regimen claimed by its originator to have exclusive or exceptional power in curing a particular disease. noun
  • Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing. noun
  • The object of such devotion. noun
  • An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest. noun
  • A group of people with a religious, philosophical or cultural identity sometimes viewed as a sect, often existing on the margins of society or exploitative towards its members. noun
  • Devotion to a saint. noun
  • Of, or relating to a cult. adjective
  • Enjoyed by a small, loyal group. adjective
  • Attentive care; homage; worship. noun
  • A system of religious belief and worship. noun
  • A system of intense religious veneration of a particular person, idea, or object, especially one considered spurious or irrational by traditional religious bodies. noun
  • The group of individuals who adhere to a cult (senses 2 or 3). noun
  • A strong devotion or interest in a particular person, idea or thing without religious associations, or the people holding such an interest. noun
  • Homage; worship; by extension, devoted attention to or veneration for a particular person or thing: as, the Shaksperian cult. noun
  • A system of religious belief and worship; especially, the rites and ceremonies employed in worship. Also cultus. noun

The word "cult" in example sentences

To use the term cult too casually risks tarring the merely unconventional, for which America has long been a safe harbor.. [When Does a Religion Become a Cult?]

For the first time ever, the term cult came to her mind.. [The Stolen]

That's the question former BB guestblogger Occult America, recently tackled in the Wall Street Journal: To use the term cult too casually risks tarring the merely unconventional, for which America has long been a safe harbor.. [Boing Boing]

‡ The term cult often suggests extreme beliefs and bizarre behavior.. [cult]

Sociologists started using the word cult with some regularity in the 1970s, to distinguish emerging groups like the. [Slate Articles]

Academics largely abandoned the word cult in the 1980s.. [Slate Articles]

Likewise, the term "cult" in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre.. [ Top headlines]

KING: It was in a conversation with reporters after that Dr. Jeffress used the term cult.. [Crooks and Liars]

According to, Miscavige, everyone who criticises the cult is a crook or, as he puts it in R&R, “We do not find critics of Scientology who do not have criminal backgrounds.”. [Scientologists, WWII Star of David spoof]

And yet, you completely understand the source of their ignorance — the word "cult" is thrown around in reference to the fundamentalist LDS.. [OWN's Sons of Perdition Is Fundamentally Fascinating]

You do realize that being under the control of a cult is a per-excising condition.. [Think Progress » ThinkFast: March 23, 2010]

Instead, what drives people to the cult is the book itself ... not pressure, not even the personalities of the other members.. [The Volokh Conspiracy » Charles Murray on Ayn Rand:]

Calvin Beisner, founder of the Cornwall Alliance, outlines his position as clearly as anyone could wish: The environmental movement has actually become what I call the cult of the green dragon.. [Michael Zimmerman, Ph.D.: From Creationism To Anti-Environmentalism: The Religious Right's Attack On Science Expands]

However, there were a lot of implications in the word cult.. [I'm Perfect, You're Doomed]

The typical adherent of the cult is as timid as Quandary, but maybe a Q-in-waiting lies beneath many of those reticent exteriors.. [Stromata Blog:]

This is the epitome of what we call cult reporting.. [Major Davis Returns to ‘Stargate’]

Cult Translates

TurkishCult English to Turkish Translate
(i). mezhep; çığır; inanç, tapınma.(i). mezhep; çığır; inanç, tapınma.

Cult on Social Media


@sarahkendzior: Earlier today I tweeted about how the GOP leadership mirrors that of an apocalyptic cult, most evident in the rapture rh…


@HenryHowards1: @ProudResister @carlbernstein @GOP The government shutdown is just their first destructive ploy, and this alone may beco…


@sarahkendzior: Earlier today I tweeted about how the GOP leadership mirrors that of an apocalyptic cult, most evident in the rapture rh…

Cult Comments

Cult Videos

I grew up in a cult. It was heaven -- and hell. | Lilia Tarawa | TEDxChristchurch
I grew up in a cult. It was heaven -- and hell. | Lilia Tarawa | TEDxChristchurch
The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary
The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary
Why do people join cults? - Janja Lalich
Why do people join cults? - Janja Lalich

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Cult Word Data

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  • Hyphenation cult


Homage Worship


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