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[kuh-bal] /kəˈbæl/
a small group of secret plotters, as against a government or person in authority.
the plots and schemes of such a group; intrigue.
a clique, as in artistic, literary, or theatrical circles.
verb (used without object), caballed, caballing.
to form a cabal; intrigue; conspire; plot.
1610-20, for an earlier sense; earlier cabbal < Medieval Latin cabbala. See cabala
Related forms
caballer, noun
Can be confused
cabal, cabala.
1. junta, faction, band, league, ring. 2. See conspiracy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cabal
  • Theories about the tightly knit neocon cabal came in waves.
  • Anybody who attacks the secret subject is, by definition, part of the cabal.
  • But it's harder to identify a cabal that self-consciously embraced greed as a guiding philosophy.
  • Moreover, he has the habit of craving entry to every club and cabal he can find.
  • But a cabal of mining outfits and their lobbyists blocked his efforts.
  • There always seems to be another warehouse or wharf to explore and another cabal of crazies waiting for you.
  • Minority diners occasionally encounter bad seating and frosty treatment, but a racist cabal does not appear at work.
British Dictionary definitions for cabal


a small group of intriguers, esp one formed for political purposes
a secret plot, esp a political one; conspiracy; intrigue
a secret or exclusive set of people; clique
verb (intransitive) -bals, -balling, -balled
to form a cabal; conspire; plot
Word Origin
C17: from French cabale, from Medieval Latin cabala; see cabbala


(English history) the Cabal, a group of ministers of Charles II that governed from 1667–73: consisting of Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, and Lauderdale
Word Origin
see kabbalah; by a coincidence, the initials of Charles II's ministers can be arranged to form this word
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for cabal

1520s, "mystical interpretation of the Old Testament," later "society, small group meeting privately" (1660s), from French cabal, in both senses, from Medieval Latin cabbala (see cabbala). Popularized in English 1673 as an acronym for five intriguing ministers of Charles II (Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale), which gave the word its sinister connotations.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for cabal

a private organization or party engaged in secret intrigues; also, the intrigues themselves. In England the word was used during the 17th century to describe any secret or extralegal council of the king, especially the foreign committee of the Privy Council. The term took on its present invidious meaning from a group of five ministers chosen in 1667 by King Charles II (Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley Cooper [later earl of Shaftesbury], and Lauderdale), whose initial letters coincidentally spelled cabal. This cabal, never very unified in its members' aims and sympathies, fell apart by 1672; Shaftesbury even became one of Charles II's fiercest opponents.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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