American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A group of people forming a distinct unit within a larger group by virtue of certain refinements or distinctions of belief or practice.
- n. A religious body, especially one that has separated from a larger denomination.
- n. A faction united by common interests or beliefs.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A system or body of doctrines or opinions held by a number of persons and constituting the distinctive doctrines of a school, as propounded originally by the founder or founders of the school and (usually) developed or modified by later adherents; also and usually, the body of persons holding such doctrines or opinions; a school of philosophy or of philosophers: as, the sect of Epicurus; the sect of the Epicureans.
- n. A party or body of persons who unite in holding certain special doctrines or opinions concerning religion, which distinguish them from others holding the same general religious belief; a distinct part of the general body of persons claiming the same religious name or origin; especially, such a party of innovators, differing in their beliefs from those who support the older or orthodox views; a party or faction in a religious body; a separate ecclesiastical organization; an ecclesiastical denomination: as, the sects of the Jewish religion (which were not separately organized); the sects of the Christian church (usually separately organized); Mohammedan sects; Buddhist sects. The Latin word secta, from which the English word sect is derived, did not at first become limited in Christian usage to a specific meaning. It was used for ‘way,’ ‘mode of life,’ etc., but also for the Greek
αἱρεσις(Latin hæresis, the original of the English word heresy), signifying ‘a school of philosophy, opinion, or doctrine,’ especially peculiar or erroneous doctrine. A familiar application was to the sect of Christians, as distinguished from Jews and pagans. In four of the nine passages in which αἱρεσιςis found in the New Testament, the Vulgate has hæresis, in the other five secta. In Acts xxiv. 14 it has “the way (sectam) which they call heresy (hæresim).” The use of secta in these passages led to the meaning of ‘a separate or heretical body,’ which is found in writers of the fourth century, and by desynonymization secta emphasized the organization and hæresis the doctrine. Afterward it came to be supposed that the word secta meant, etymologically, ‘a party cut off’; hence the more or less opprobrious use of sect by many writers. It is often used, however, unopprobriously, in a sense substantially identical with the original sense, to signify ‘a body of persons who agree in a particular set of doctrines.’
- n. A religion.
- n. In a general sense, a number of persons holding the same opinions or practising the same customs, or having common associations or interests; a party; following; company; faction.
- n. Kind; sex: originally merely a particular use of sect in sense 4, but now regarded as a form of sex, and as such avoided as incorrect.
- n. Apparel; likeness.
- n. A part cut off; a cutting; scion.
- n. In geometry: A part cut out on a straight line; a limited straight line or rod; the part or piece of a straight line between two definite points (end-points of the sect); a portion of a given straight line, of definite length.
- n. A piece of a range bounded by two points.
- n. Two points, A and B, upon a straight adjective
- In mathematics, of sects; operating with sects.
- [lowercase or cap.] An abbreviation of section.
- n. An offshoot of a larger religion; a group sharing particular (often unorthodox) political and/or religious beliefs.
- n. A group following a specific ideal or a leader.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. obsolete A cutting; a scion.
- n. Those following a particular leader or authority, or attached to a certain opinion; a company or set having a common belief or allegiance distinct from others; in religion, the believers in a particular creed, or upholders of a particular practice; especially, in modern times, a party dissenting from an established church; a denomination; in philosophy, the disciples of a particular master; a school; in society and the state, an order, rank, class, or party.
- n. a subdivision of a larger religious group
- n. a dissenting clique
- From Middle English secte, from Old French secte ("a sect in philosophy or religion"), from Late Latin secta ("a sect in philosophy or religion, a school, party, faction, class, gild, band, particularly a heretical doctrince or sect, etc."), possibly, from Latin sequi ("to follow"). (Wiktionary)
- Middle English secte, from Old French, from Latin secta, course, school of thought, from feminine past participle of sequī, to follow; see sekw-1 in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“Today, the term sect in discussions of religion can have a far different meaning than sectarianism in the political left.”
“The historical usage of the term sect in Christendom has had pejorative connotations, referring to a group or movement with heretical beliefs or practices that deviate from those of groups considered orthodox.”
“Certainly enough knowledge now to understand why your sect is the sole repository of the truth.”
“But he is held, just by virtue of his place in the Bible, the New Testament, by every what you call sect or Christian persuasion.”
“(Daniel 12: 2) \ "" But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”
“Iranians are not Semitic people and the Shia sect is not very large in the Arab countries.”
“It marks the split between Judaism and Christendom (which he calls a sect) in some obscure comment from Paul about circumcision.”
“Next entry: House of Yahweh leader claims sect is unfairly targeted”
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