American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. 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.
- n. The followers of such a religion or sect.
- n. A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
- n. The formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual.
- n. A usually nonscientific method or regimen claimed by its originator to have exclusive or exceptional power in curing a particular disease.
- n. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
- n. The object of such devotion.
- n. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Homage; worship; by extension, devoted attention to or veneration for a particular person or thing: as, the Shaksperian cult.
- n. A system of religious belief and worship; especially, the rites and ceremonies employed in worship. Also cultus.
- n. A subject of devoted attention or study; that in which one is earnestly or absorbingly interested.
- n. 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.
- n. Devotion to a saint.
- adj. Of, or relating to a cult.
- adj. Enjoyed by a small, loyal group.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. Attentive care; homage; worship.
- n. A system of religious belief and worship.
- n. A system of intense religious veneration of a particular person, idea, or object, especially one considered spurious or irrational by traditional religious bodies.
- n. The group of individuals who adhere to a cult (senses 2 or 3).
- n. A strong devotion or interest in a particular person, idea or thing without religious associations, or the people holding such an interest.
- n. followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices
- n. followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader
- n. a system of religious beliefs and rituals
- n. a religion or sect that is generally considered to be unorthodox, extremist, or false
- n. an interest followed with exaggerated zeal
- From French culte, from Latin cultus ("care, adoration; cult"), from colō ("cultivate; protect"). (Wiktionary)
- Latin cultus, worship, from past participle of colere, to cultivate; see kwel-1 in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“To use the term cult too casually risks tarring the merely unconventional, for which America has long been a safe harbor.”
“For the first time ever, the term cult came to her mind.”
“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.”
“ The term cult often suggests extreme beliefs and bizarre behavior.”
“Sociologists started using the word cult with some regularity in the 1970s, to distinguish emerging groups like the”
“Academics largely abandoned the word cult in the 1980s.”
“Likewise, the term "cult" in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre.”
“KING: It was in a conversation with reporters after that Dr. Jeffress used the term cult.”
“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.””
“And yet, you completely understand the source of their ignorance — the word "cult" is thrown around in reference to the fundamentalist LDS.”
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