Definitions

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

  • n. A conspiratorial group of plotters or intriguers: "Espionage is quite precisely it—a cabal of powerful men, working secretly” ( Frank Conroy).
  • n. A secret scheme or plot.
  • intransitive v. To form a cabal; conspire.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Tradition; occult doctrine. See cabala.
  • n. A secret.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The secret artifices or machinations of a few persons united in a close design; intrigue.
  • intransitive v. To unite in a small party to promote private views and interests by intrigue; to intrigue; to plot.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The cabala (which see).
  • n. A secret.
  • n. Conjoint intrigue; secret artifices of a few persons united in some design: as, “curs'd cabals of women,”
  • n. A number of persons united in some close design, usually to promote their private views in church or state by intrigue; a junto.
  • n. 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.”
  • To form a cabal; intrigue conjointly; unite in secret artifices to effect some design.
  • n. A horse.

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

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

Etymologies

French cabale, from Medieval Latin cabala; see kabbalah.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The number of Republicans who support this man and his cabal is astonishing, but nothing will change the minds of that percentage.

    Think Progress » Source to Stephanopoulos: President Bush Directly Involved In Leak Scandal

  • And some brilliantly colourful facts too - like where the word 'cabal' comes from, what the war of Jenkins' ear was and who the first 'commoner queen' was.

  • Dr. Ian Swayze who was and still is working at CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) in Toronto had in interesting patient; paranoid schizophrenic Scott Jeffrey Schultzman aka "Professor Scott Starson" who always protested being medicated as he claimed that medication was slowing his thought process and "consilium", that is what you call cabal of three doctors, decided to use these protests in order to throw a monkey wrench into Canadian legal system and do it quick enough so the issue of informed consent could be done away with by the time they face their own trial.

    Right Crazy (.com)

  • Dr. Ian Swayze who was and still is working at CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) in Toronto had in interesting patient; paranoid schizophrenic Scott Jeffrey Schultzman aka "Professor Scott Starson" who always protested being medicated as he claimed that medication was slowing his thought process and "consilium", that is what you call cabal of three doctors, decided to use these protests in order to throw a monkey wrench into Canadian legal system and do it quick enough so the issue of informed consent could be done away with by the courts before they face their own trial.

    Right Crazy (.com)

  • It wouldn't hurt if DC remotely attempted to find new writers outside of their main cabal (Morrison, Johns, Rucka, Robinson, Tomasi, Gates, Simone).

    Mark Waid on, well, everything | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment

  • They live in a world of paranoid fantasies, where some secret cabal is supposedly trying to set up a world government to take away their freedoms.

    steve | Serendipity

  • Just like Bush and the Neocons ranting about terrorism, the global warming cabal is a scare tactic to push an agenda.

    Latest global warming idea (Jack Bog's Blog)

  • Then again, the secret cabal is me talking to my roommate.

    Matthew Yglesias » Breitbart on Podesta

  • The conservative cabal is shrewd, unified and extremely well funded; they won't let something as simple as e-mail messages get in the way of their long range plans to permanently take control of the US Govermnent.

    Millions of White House e-mails recovered

  • Your damn right I am, but where we differ is the degree to which a "heads you lose - tails I win" strategy when the police crack down on criminals is USED furthermore it is actually encouraged by a certain cabal of people with close connections to City Hall and within City Hall.

    Sound Politics: The Racial Politics Of Police "Use Of Force" Complaints

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • 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

  • While they were caballing it struck twelve.

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

    October 3, 2008

  • cabal: conspiracy.
    cabal: excelent.

    January 10, 2008

  • Mmm... interesting!

    January 9, 2008

  • 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

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

    November 27, 2007

  • 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