noun ca·bal \ kə-ˈbäl , -ˈbal \
Updated on: 19 Jan 2018

Definition of cabal

1 : the contrived schemes of a group of persons secretly united in a plot (as to overturn a government); also : a group engaged in such schemes
2 : club, group
  • a cabal of artists

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Examples of cabal in a Sentence

  1. a cabal plotting to overthrow the government

  2. a conspiracy theory about the existence of an international cabal devoted to world domination

Recent Examples of cabal from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cabal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

In A Child's History of England, Charles Dickens associates the word cabal with a group of five ministers in the government of England's King Charles II. The initial letters of the names or titles of those men (Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale) spell cabal, and Dickens dubbed them the "Cabal Ministry." These five men were widely regarded as invidious, secretive plotters and their activities may have encouraged English speakers to associate cabal with high-level government intrigue. But their names are not the source of the word cabal, which was in use decades before Charles II ascended the throne. The term can be traced back through French to cabbala, the Medieval Latin name for the Kabbalah, a traditional system of esoteric Jewish mysticism.

Origin and Etymology of cabal

French cabale cabala, intrigue, cabal, from Medieval Latin cabbala cabala, from Late Hebrew qabbālāh, literally, received (lore)

cabal Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of cabal

plot, intrigue, machination, conspiracy, cabal mean a plan secretly devised to accomplish an evil or treacherous end. plot implies careful foresight in planning a complex scheme.
    • an assassination plot
intrigue suggests secret underhanded maneuvering in an atmosphere of duplicity.
    • backstairs intrigue
machination implies a contriving of annoyances, injuries, or evils by indirect means.
    • the machinations of a party boss
conspiracy implies a secret agreement among several people usually involving treason or great treachery.
    • a conspiracy to fix prices
cabal typically applies to political intrigue involving persons of some eminence.
    • a cabal among powerful senators




Definition of cabal

caballed; caballing
intransitive verb
: to unite in or form a cabal

Origin and Etymology of cabal

see 1cabal

CABAL Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of cabal for English Language Learners

  • : a small group of people who work together secretly

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