book hack
CultishBy Amanda Montell

In a Nutshell

Linguist Amanda Montell explains why people are so intrigued by the phenomenon of cults and why cult-like language is so popular across American culture, including in religious groups, corporations, and gyms.

Favorite quote

Our speech in regular life—at work, in Spin class, on Instagram—is evidence of our varying degrees of 'cult' membership. You just have to know what to listen for.

Amanda Montell


How do you know if a group is a cult? Language scholar Amanda Montell dives into the world of 'cultish' language across a spectrum of social influence — from overeager spin class instructors to actual cult leaders like Jim Jones or Charles Manson.

Montell grew up with a great interest in the world of cults, her father having lived with the X cult as a child. Montell's first book, Wordslut, highlighted the history of gendered language from a feminist perspective. Montell co-hosts the podcast Sounds Like A Cult, which addresses 'cultish' aspects of pop culture obsessions like The Bachelor and the royal family.

In Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, Montell interviews cult survivors and draws on her own personal experience with 'cultish' companies and communities. As a linguist, Montell shares a unique perspective on what cults and 'cultish' movements have in common: shared language that appeals to human emotions and our need to fit in.

Here are the 3 key insights from this Hack

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    We are fascinated by cults because we fear that we could be susceptible to similar influence
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