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ca·​bal kə-ˈbäl How to pronounce cabal (audio) -ˈbal How to pronounce cabal (audio)
: 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
: club, group
a cabal of artists


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caballed; caballing

intransitive verb

: to unite in or form a cabal

Did you know?

Cabal has been associated 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) spelled cabal, and they have been collectively dubbed as the "Cabal Cabinet" or "Cabal Ministry." But these five names are not the source of the word cabal, which was in use decades before Charles II ascended the throne. The term traces back to cabbala, the Medieval Latin name for the Kabbalah, a traditional system of esoteric Jewish mysticism. Latin borrowed Cabbala from the Hebrew qabbālāh, meaning "received or traditional lore."

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of cabal in a Sentence

Noun a cabal plotting to overthrow the government a conspiracy theory about the existence of an international cabal devoted to world domination
Recent Examples on the Web
As writers we’re used to the DGA’s tire tracks, but this time the secretive cabal that runs that place, threw its own members under the bus. Anonymous, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 June 2023 The conspiracy theory, which has found a home on the far-right fringes, claims a cabal of liberals is seeking to displace the white American population and replace them with nonwhite voters. NBC News, 28 Aug. 2023 The movie’s big idea: What if a shadowy government cabal had a secret lair located just below a predominantly Black neighborhood known as the Glen. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, 21 July 2023 The film’s villains are common criminals, not the shadowy cabal of occultists imagined by QAnoners. Herb Scribner and Will Sommer, Anchorage Daily News, 8 July 2023 Most of them were addicts mentored by King and hired by his CrossFit cabal. Paul Solotaroff, Rolling Stone, 1 July 2023 Giuliani also discussed Sidney Powell, a lawyer who was briefly tied to Trump’s campaign and who made baseless claims about a cabal of foreign actors hacking into voting machines to steal the election from Trump, the person said. Ben Protess,, 28 June 2023 The theory coalesced around a narrative that former President Donald Trump was set to dismantle a global cabal of leaders who had committed crimes against children, including ingesting their blood. Ellie Willard, The Arizona Republic, 28 May 2023 Prominent figures such as Henry Ford promoted antisemitic propaganda and conspiracies that characterized Jews as part of a cabal that sought to control the world (a familiar refrain for antisemites today). Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 4 Apr. 2023
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. Martin Finucane,, 14 June 2019 Powell is drawing encouragement from the significant losses of candidates who, like Burton, are backed by the Empower Texans cabal attempting to take control of the Texas Legislature. Richard Greene, star-telegram, 24 May 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cabal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use


1614, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1678, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cabal was in 1614


Dictionary Entries Near cabal

Cite this Entry

“Cabal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a small group of persons working together secretly (as to take over a government)

More from Merriam-Webster on cabal

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