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

Essential Meaning of cabal

formal + disapproving : a small group of people who work together secretly a cabal plotting to overthrow the government

Full 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

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?

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."

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 One of the leaders of that cabal of White Democrats working on this plan was Josephus Daniels, the publisher and editor of the Raleigh News & Observer. Lisa Deaderick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Oct. 2021 The winners of the game — organized by some sort of secret cabal — are promised a cut of the ₩45.6 billion prize pool (about $38.8 million at current exchange rates). Todd Spangler, Variety, 30 Oct. 2021 Adherents of QAnon imagined a looming takedown of a powerful ruling cabal of political leaders. Richard Ruelas, USA TODAY, 16 Oct. 2021 Adherents of QAnon imagined a looming takedown of a powerful ruling cabal of political leaders. Richard Ruelas, The Arizona Republic, 15 Oct. 2021 But the graft investigation that forced his resignation over the weekend places him at the center of a cabal that embezzled state funds to deceive the public and his own party, all to pave his way to power. Washington Post, 11 Oct. 2021 Unfortunately, Sam makes a mess of her own by killing the son of a rival cabal, leaving its leader hellbent on revenge. Brian Lowry, CNN, 14 July 2021 In these circumstances, even newsrooms not in thrall to the hard-right cabal would be hard-pressed to strike the right tone, to see the big picture, to earn the consumer’s trust. Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times, 22 Dec. 2021 Within days, Facebook had recommended pages and groups related to QAnon, the conspiracy theory that falsely claimed Mr. Trump was facing down a shadowy cabal of Democratic pedophiles. New York Times, 22 Oct. 2021 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,, 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

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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Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cabal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of cabal for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cabal


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