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.

1550–60; < Middle French < Italian cartello letter of defiance, poster, equivalent to cart(a) carte + -ello diminutive suffix

cartelism, noun

1. monopoly, merger, combination. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cartel (kɑːˈtɛl)
1.  Also called: trust a collusive international association of independent enterprises formed to monopolize production and distribution of a product or service, control prices, etc
2.  politics an alliance of parties or interests to further common aims
[C20: from German Kartell, from French, from Italian cartello a written challenge, public notice, diminutive of cartacard1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1560, "a written challenge," from M.Fr. cartel, from It. cartello, dim. of carta "card." It came to mean "written agreement between challengers" (1692). Sense of "a commercial trust" comes 1902, via Ger. Kartell.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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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Example sentences
Cartel participants held frequent interim meetings to monitor and enforce the agreed-upon prices and market shares.
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.
But the paraffin cartel was rare in that some members kept minutes, and
  attendance lists.
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