[ kuh-bal ]
/ kəˈbæl /


a small group of secret plotters, as against a government or person in authority.
the plots and schemes of such a group; intrigue.
a clique, as in artistic, literary, or theatrical circles.

verb (used without object), ca·balled, ca·bal·ling.

to form a cabal; intrigue; conspire; plot.


Origin of cabal

1610–20, for an earlier sense; earlier cabbal < Medieval Latin cabbala. See cabala
Related formsca·bal·ler, noun
Can be confusedcabal cabala

Synonym study

2. See conspiracy. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cabal

British Dictionary definitions for cabal (1 of 2)


/ (kəˈbæl) /


a small group of intriguers, esp one formed for political purposes
a secret plot, esp a political one; conspiracy; intrigue
a secret or exclusive set of people; clique

verb -bals, -balling or -balled (intr)

to form a cabal; conspire; plot

Word Origin for cabal

C17: from French cabale, from Medieval Latin cabala; see cabbala

British Dictionary definitions for cabal (2 of 2)


/ (kəˈbæl) /


the Cabal English history a group of ministers of Charles II that governed from 1667–73: consisting of Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, and Lauderdale

Word Origin for Cabal

see kabbalah; by a coincidence, the initials of Charles II's ministers can be arranged to form this word
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cabal



1520s, "mystical interpretation of the Old Testament," later "society, small group meeting privately" (1660s), from French cabal, in both senses, from Medieval Latin cabbala (see cabbala). Popularized in English 1673 as an acronym for five intriguing ministers of Charles II (Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale), which gave the word its sinister connotations.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper