a body of persons adhering to a particular religious faith; a religious denomination.
a group regarded as heretical or as deviating from a generally accepted religious tradition.
(in the sociology of religion) a Christian denomination characterized by insistence on strict qualifications for membership, as distinguished from the more inclusive groups called churches.
any group, party, or faction united by a specific doctrine or under a doctrinal leader.

1300–50; Middle English secte < Latin secta something to follow, pathway, course of conduct, school of thought, probably noun derivative of sectārī to pursue, accompany, wait upon, frequentative of sequī to follow

subsect, noun
undersect, noun

sects, sex. Unabridged

sect. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
sect (sɛkt)
1.  a subdivision of a larger religious group (esp the Christian Church as a whole) the members of which have to some extent diverged from the rest by developing deviating beliefs, practices, etc
2.  derogatory often
 a.  a schismatic religious body characterized by an attitude of exclusivity in contrast to the more inclusive religious groups called denominations or Churches
 b.  a religious group regarded as extreme or heretical
3.  a group of people with a common interest, doctrine, etc; faction
[C14: from Latin secta faction, following, from the stem of sequī to follow]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, "distinctive system of beliefs or observances; party or school within a religion," from O.Fr. secte, from L.L. secta "religious group, sect," from L. secta "manner, mode, following, school of thought," lit. "a way, road," from fem. of sectus, variant pp. of sequi "follow," from PIE *sekw- "to
follow" (see sequel). Confused in this sense with L. secta, fem. pp. of secare "to cut" (see section). Meaning "separately organized religious body" is recorded from 1577. Sectarian first recorded 1649, originally applied by Presbyterians to Independents, from M.L. sectarius, from secta.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

sect definition

A religious group, especially one that has separated from a larger group. Sect is often a term of disapproval.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
  1. section

  2. sectional

The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Sect definition

(Gr. hairesis, usually rendered "heresy", Acts 24:14; 1 Chr. 11:19; Gal. 5:20, etc.), meaning properly "a choice," then "a chosen manner of life," and then "a religious party," as the "sect" of the Sadducees (Acts 5:17), of the Pharisees (15:5), the Nazarenes, i.e., Christians (24:5). It afterwards came to be used in a bad sense, of those holding pernicious error, divergent forms of belief (2 Pet. 2:1; Gal. 5:20).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
It is distressing to see a member of one sect correct the inference of someone they believe is a member of another sect.
Taking out opposition is a way to help your sect grow.
It got rooted back in time when procreation was a necessity to keep your specific group or sect alive and flourish.
At that point, it becomes a religion unto itself, as dogmatic as any religious sect.
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