Nearby words

  1. cabin cruiser,
  2. cabin deck,
  3. cabin fever,
  4. cabin hook,
  5. cabinda,
  6. cabinet beetle,
  7. cabinet government,
  8. cabinet minister,
  9. cabinet picture,
  10. cabinet pudding

Origin of cabinet

1540–50; < Middle French, equivalent to cabine hut, room on a ship (of uncertain origin, but frequently alleged to be alteration of cabane cabin) + -et -et

4. advisers, ministry, counselors.

Related formssu·per·cab·i·net, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cabinet

British Dictionary definitions for cabinet



  1. a piece of furniture containing shelves, cupboards, or drawers for storage or display
  2. (as modifier)cabinet teak
the outer case of a television, radio, etc
  1. (often capital)the executive and policy-making body of a country, consisting of all government ministers or just the senior ministers
  2. (sometimes capital)an advisory council to a president, sovereign, governor, etc
  3. (as modifier)a cabinet reshuffle; a cabinet minister
  1. a standard size of paper, 6 × 4 inches (15 × 10 cm) or 6 1/2 × 4 1/4 inches (16.5 × 10.5 cm), for mounted photographs
  2. (as modifier)a cabinet photograph
printing an enclosed rack for holding cases of type, etc
archaic a private room
(modifier) suitable in size, value, decoration, etc, for a display cabineta cabinet edition of Shakespeare
(modifier) (of a drawing or projection of a three-dimensional object) constructed with true horizontal and vertical representation of scale but with oblique distances reduced to about half scale to avoid the appearance of distortion
(modifier) (of a wine) specially selected and usually rare

Word Origin for cabinet

C16: from Old French, diminutive of cabine, of uncertain origin

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 cabinet



1540s, "secret storehouse, treasure chamber," from Middle French cabinet "small room" (16c.), diminutive of Old French cabane "cabin" (see cabin); perhaps influenced by (or rather, from) Italian gabbinetto, diminutive of gabbia, from Latin cavea "stall, stoop, cage, den for animals" (see cave (n.)).

Meaning "case for safe-keeping" (of papers, liquor, etc.) is from 1540s, gradually shading to mean a piece of furniture that does this. Sense of "private room where advisors meet" (c.1600) led to modern political meaning (1640s); perhaps originally short for cabinet council (1630s); cf. board (n.1) in its evolution from place where some group meets to the word for the group that meets there.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for cabinet


A select group of officials who advise the head of government. In nations governed by parliaments, such as Britain, the members of the cabinet typically have seats in parliament. (Compare cabinet under “American Politics.”)

A group of presidential advisers, composed of the heads of the fourteen government departments (the secretaries of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of the Interior, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the attorney general (head of the Department of Justice) — all of whom are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate) and a few other select government officials. Theoretically, the cabinet is charged with debating major policy issues and recommending action by the executive branch; the actual influence of the cabinet, however, is limited by competition from other advisory staffs.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.