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

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

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Synonyms for cabal

Synonyms: Noun

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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?


In A Child's History of England, Charles Dickens associates the word cabal 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) spell cabal, and Dickens dubbed them the "Cabal Ministry." These five men were widely regarded as invidious, secretive plotters and their activities may have encouraged English speakers to associate cabal with high-level government intrigue. But their names are not the source of the word cabal, which was in use decades before Charles II ascended the throne. The term can be traced back through French to cabbala, the Medieval Latin name for the Kabbalah, a traditional system of esoteric Jewish mysticism.

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 This latest trailer has a bit more of a subdued humorous spark, opening with Rasputin calling a meeting of his secret cabal. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Rasputin features in all his mad, mystic glory in The King’s Man final trailer," 21 June 2020 In spite of this tension, our research shows that many share the conspiracy belief that Western governments are corrupt and controlled by the New World Order, a cabal of wealthy Jewish elites. Matthew Valasik, The Conversation, "Why are white supremacists protesting the deaths of black people?," 5 June 2020 Both accounts appear to follow QAnon, which is, in part, is a right-wing conspiracy that involves allegations of a Democratic cabal of pedophiles trying to control the country, and that President Donald Trump is trying to stop it. Nick Coltrain, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Conspiracy theorists claim Nancy Pelosi visited Wuhan in November. She did not," 25 Apr. 2020 The cancer cabal, Nic said, and the doctor flicked his eyes at her in recognition: another joker in the room. Lauren Groff, The Atlantic, "Birdie," 14 Jan. 2020 Even some of my educated, generally thoughtful friends had been taken in by the film’s suggestion that the coronavirus pandemic was a hoax engineered by a greedy cabal of global elites in order to profit off a vaccine. David Leonhardt, New York Times, "Coronavirus, Michael Flynn, Federal Reserve: Your Thursday Briefing," 14 May 2020 Not to some secret anti-Trump cabal, but to Congress. Lucien Bruggeman, ABC News, "Judge's impassioned remarks in Roger Stone case: 'The truth still matters'," 21 Feb. 2020 Trump administration loyalists see in the scientists’ efforts evidence that a cabal of bureaucrats and holdovers from previous administrations is intentionally undermining the president and his policies. Coral Davenport, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump’s environmental rollbacks find opposition within: staff scientists," 27 Mar. 2020 But even among the uber-wealthy cabal that is the NFL owners club, a there still exists a financial hierarchy. Peter Dawson, Houston Chronicle, "Where Texans owner Janice McNair ranks among NFL's richest owners," 26 Nov. 2019 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, BostonGlobe.com, "How far back does concern about foreign influence in the US go? All the way back," 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, "Republicans think they have November in the bag. Do they? | Fort Worth 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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Time Traveler for cabal

Time Traveler

The first known use of cabal was in 1614

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Statistics for cabal

Last Updated

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cabal.” waleadership.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://waleadership.com/dictionary/cabal. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for cabal


How to pronounce cabal (audio) How to pronounce cabal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cabal

formal + disapproving : a small group of people who work together secretly

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