ca·​bal | \ kə-ˈbäl How to pronounce cabal (audio) , -ˈbal How to pronounce cabal (audio) \

Definition of cabal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


caballed; caballing

Definition of cabal (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to unite in or form a cabal

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Synonyms for cabal

Synonyms: Noun

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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

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.

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: Noun At a press event where the supes hand out supplies to residents affected by this fight, Edgar blames Compound-V on Madelyn Stillwell and her cabal of rogue scientists. Nick Schager,, "The Boys recap: Don’t forget your second wind," 4 Sep. 2020 QAnon is a fringe movement in the United States that is based on the notion that the country is controlled by a secret cabal of cannibalistic pedophiles. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Hundreds arrested at German protest against coronavirus prevention measures," 29 Aug. 2020 Supposedly Donald Trump is set to smash a cabal of paedophiles and cannibals, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and George Soros. The Economist, "Political rabbit holes QAnon conspiracy theorists could prove awkward for Republicans," 29 Aug. 2020 Which is also a reminder that until this week, Facebook was actively funneling users to a conspiracy theory whose central tenet is that the world is run by a cabal of celebrity pedophiles whom only Donald Trump can bring to justice. Brian Barrett, Wired, "Security News This Week: Facebook Finally Cracks Down on QAnon," 22 Aug. 2020 Facebook is taking sweeping action against various extremist groups, including Qanon, the nonsense conspiracy theory movement that claims President Trump is battling a global cabal of pedophiles. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Will Facebook’s QAnon crackdown succeed? What people are saying so far," 20 Aug. 2020 Yet the professor says he's done polling which shows that between 5% and 10% of Americans believe President Trump is a secret crusader, working to take down a cannibalistic cabal inside the government. CBS News, "Why President Trump's refusal to refute QAnon conspiracy theorists matters," 20 Aug. 2020 The video is filled with false claims and insinuations, centering on the notion that a cabal of federal contractors is using advanced data collection techniques to engineer global events and orchestrate a coup against President Donald Trump. Matthew Brown, USA TODAY, "Fact check: 'ShadowGate' video spreads misinformation, conspiracy theories about major events," 18 Aug. 2020 These views center around the tenet that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, mainly consisting of... Eleanore Park, WSJ, "What is QAnon? What We Know About the Conspiracy Theory," 17 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. Martin Finucane,, "How far back does concern about foreign influence in the US go? All the way back," 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, "Republicans think they have November in the bag. Do they? | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 24 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of cabal


1614, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1678, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cabal

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for cabal

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The first known use of cabal was in 1614

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cabal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for cabal


How to pronounce cabal (audio) How to pronounce cabal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cabal

formal + disapproving : a small group of people who work together secretly

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