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[sekt] /sɛkt/
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.
Origin of sect
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
Related forms
subsect, noun
undersect, noun
Can be confused
sects, sex.


1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for sect
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • An early Christian sect, called Ophites, worshipped it as the personation of natural knowledge.

    Tablets Amos Bronson Alcott
  • He founded a sect of new-green-one worshippers (quite unwittingly).

    Bones Edgar Wallace
  • Avoid as you would the plague those who seek to embroil you in conflict, one Christian sect with another.

    African and European Addresses Theodore Roosevelt
  • That sect that calls up ghosts and goblins by means of the legs of a table!

    Dona Perfecta B. Perez Galdos
  • Morals with this sect were carried, or affected to be carried to the same degree of extravagance as religion.

British Dictionary definitions for sect


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
(often derogatory)
  1. a schismatic religious body characterized by an attitude of exclusivity in contrast to the more inclusive religious groups called denominations or Churches
  2. a religious group regarded as extreme or heretical
a group of people with a common interest, doctrine, etc; faction
Word Origin
C14: from Latin secta faction, following, from the stem of sequī to follow
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sect

mid-14c., "distinctive system of beliefs or observances; party or school within a religion," from Old French secte, sete "sect, religious community," or directly from Late Latin secta "religious group, sect in philosophy or religion," from Latin secta "manner, mode, following, school of thought," literally "a way, road, beaten path," from fem. of sectus, variant past participle of sequi "follow," from PIE *sekw- (1) "to follow" (see sequel). Confused in this sense with Latin secta, fem. past participle of secare "to cut" (see section (n.)). Meaning "separately organized religious body" is recorded from 1570s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sect in Culture

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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Related Abbreviations for sect


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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sect in the Bible

(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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