Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A conspiratorial group of plotters or intriguers.
  • noun A secret scheme or plot.
  • intransitive verb To form a cabal; conspire.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A horse.
  • To form a cabal; intrigue conjointly; unite in secret artifices to effect some design.
  • noun The cabala (which see).
  • noun A secret.
  • noun Conjoint intrigue; secret artifices of a few persons united in some design: as, “curs'd cabals of women,”
  • noun A number of persons united in some close design, usually to promote their private views in church or state by intrigue; a junto.
  • noun Synonyms Combination, Party, Faction, Cabal, Camarilla, Junto. Combination is the most general of these words, but it expresses least of permanence in organization; it often denotes the union for special ends of individuals or parties otherwise antagonistic: as, the Democrats and Greenbackers entered into a combination to secure the election. A party is strictly a more close and permanent union of individuals, organized to promote certain principles or common interests which they consider of fundamental importance: as, the Low Church party, the Republican party; but the term is more loosely used where organization is wanting: as, the Free-trade party. Combination and party may express that which is entirely reputable; the other words are chiefly unfavorable in their signification. A faction is commonly a section of a party; it is generally a comparatively small number of individuals, whose principles and objects are often of a captious, frivolous, or selfish nature, but advocated so persistently as to be annoying, and with so little regard to the general interest as sometimes to be dangerous. Cabal and junto express a union less comprehensive than party or even faction; the intrigues of a cabal or junto are usually conducted mainly for the personal aggrandizement of its members. Junto has almost entirely given place to cabal in modern use. A camarilla is a more or less united body of secret counselors of a ruler, acting generally in opposition to his official advisers, and constituting a “power behind the throne.”

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To unite in a small party to promote private views and interests by intrigue; to intrigue; to plot.
  • noun obsolete Tradition; occult doctrine. See cabala.
  • noun obsolete A secret.
  • noun A number of persons united in some close design, usually to promote their private views and interests in church or state by intrigue; a secret association composed of a few designing persons; a junto.
  • noun The secret artifices or machinations of a few persons united in a close design; intrigue.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A usually secret exclusive organization of individuals gathered for a political purpose.
  • noun A secret plot.
  • noun An identifiable group within the tradition of Discordianism.
  • verb To engage in the activities of a cabal

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a plot to carry out some harmful or illegal act (especially a political plot)
  • verb engage in plotting or enter into a conspiracy, swear together
  • noun a clique (often secret) that seeks power usually through intrigue

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French cabale, from Medieval Latin cabala; see kabbalah.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French cabale, from Medieval Latin cabala, which in turn is derived from the Hebrew Kabbalah, קבלה "something received" (i.e., from tradition, from antiquity). It is likely that the mystical often secretive nature of Kabbalah led to formation of the word cabal.

Examples

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Comments

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  • A former teacher of mine used to love this word. I quite like it too, but it is a bit pretentious dontchathink?

    November 24, 2007

  • I think so. It should only be used rarely, unless, of course, you are paranoid.

    November 27, 2007

  • to my surprise, I find that the word seems to be of Hebrew origin; I always thought it was from the Cabal Ministry of Charles II Of England, whose ministers' names or titles were Clifford, Arlington,Buckingham, Ashley & Lauderdale

    November 27, 2007

  • Mmm... interesting!

    January 9, 2008

  • cabal: conspiracy.

    cabal: excelent.

    January 10, 2008

  • While they were caballing it struck twelve.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 8 ch. 2

    October 3, 2008

  • The standard etymology for cabal is from Hebrew kuf-bet-lamed-heh Kabbala, mystic lore, literally received (tradition). This is not correct. It is actually related to Hebrew het-bet-lamed kHaBaL, to plot, scheme.

    Israel "izzy" Cohen

    June 10, 2009