cam·​a·​ril·​la ˌka-mə-ˈri-lə How to pronounce camarilla (audio) -ˈrē-ə How to pronounce camarilla (audio)
: a group of unofficial often secret and scheming advisers
also : cabal

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Camarilla is borrowed from Spanish and is the diminutive of "cámara," which traces to the Late Latin camera and means "room"; a "camarilla," then, is literally a "small room." Political cliques and plotters are likely to meet in small rooms (generally with the door closed) as they hatch their schemes, and, by 1834, "camarilla" was being used in English for such closed-door groups of scheming advisers. The word is relatively rare in formal English prose, but it still finds occasional use in news stories. Some other descendants of the Latin camera include "camera," "comrade," "camaraderie," and "bicameral."

Examples of camarilla in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Russia does not have institutions so much as a camarilla of oligarchs around the leader. Robert D. Kaplan, WSJ, 23 Mar. 2018

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

Word History


Spanish, literally, small room

First Known Use

1820, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of camarilla was in 1820


Dictionary Entries Near camarilla

Cite this Entry

“Camarilla.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

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