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[kahr-tel] /kɑrˈtɛl/
an international syndicate, combine, or trust formed especially to regulate prices and output in some field of business.
a coalition of political or special-interest groups having a common cause, as to encourage the passage of a certain law.
a written agreement between belligerents, especially for the exchange of prisoners.
a written challenge to a duel.
Origin of cartel
1550-60; < Middle French < Italian cartello letter of defiance, poster, equivalent to cart(a) carte + -ello diminutive suffix
Related forms
cartelism, noun
1. monopoly, merger, combination. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cartel
  • cartel participants held frequent interim meetings to monitor and enforce the agreed-upon prices and market shares.
  • But the paraffin cartel was rare in that some members kept minutes, and attendance lists.
  • Here, the cartel seems to be taking an overly rosy view.
  • The drug cartel violence is serious, but not everywhere in the country.
  • There is also the question of whether the cartel will stick to whatever agreement it reaches.
  • But in any case it would take a cartel to ensure that bankers are kept in their place.
  • The break-up of a vitamins cartel was a notable victory.
  • Ordinarily, when prices spike skyward, the world's non-cartel spigots open wide.
  • To be sure, many of the dead have been cartel criminals.
  • Nobody wants to go back to the time when you had a cartel and price-setting.
British Dictionary definitions for cartel


Also called trust. a collusive international association of independent enterprises formed to monopolize production and distribution of a product or service, control prices, etc
(politics) an alliance of parties or interests to further common aims
Word Origin
C20: from German Kartell, from French, from Italian cartello a written challenge, public notice, diminutive of cartacard1
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 cartel

1550s, "a written challenge," from Middle French cartel (16c.), from Italian cartello "placard," diminutive of carta "card" (see card (n.1)). It came to mean "written agreement between challengers" (1690s) and then "a written agreement between challengers" (1889). Sense of "a commercial trust, an association of industrialists" comes 1902, via German Kartell, which is from French. The older U.S. term for that is trust (n.). The usual German name for them was Interessengemeinschaft, abbreviated IG.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cartel in Culture
cartel [(kahr-tel)]

An association in which producers of a similar or identical product try to obtain a monopoly over the sale of the product.

Note: The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a cartel.
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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