cam·​a·​ril·​la | \ ˌka-mə-ˈri-lə How to pronounce camarilla (audio) , -ˈrē-ə How to pronounce camarilla (audio) \

Definition of camarilla

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

First Known Use of camarilla

1834, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for camarilla

Spanish, literally, small room

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The first known use of camarilla was in 1834

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Cite this Entry

“Camarilla.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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