cabal

A cabal is a secret plot, or a small group of people who create such a plot. Some conspiracy theories are based on the idea that governments worldwide are in the hands of a powerful cabal.

Cabal comes from the word cabbala (also spelled kabbala), which refers to a Jewish tradition of interpreting texts. Cabbala is often regarded as a secret and mystical practice and, as such, the word took on the additional meaning of “secret behavior.” Cabal comes from this sense of the word. A well-known cabal in 17th-century England was coincidentally made up of five members whose names’ initial letters spelled the word cabal. (Their names were Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale.)

Definitions of cabal
1

n a clique (often secret) that seeks power usually through intrigue

Synonyms:
camarilla, faction, junto
Type of:
camp, clique, coterie, ingroup, inner circle, pack
an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose

n a plot to carry out some harmful or illegal act (especially a political plot)

Synonyms:
conspiracy
Types:
Gunpowder Plot
a conspiracy in 1605 in England to blow up James I and the Houses of Parliament to avenge the persecution of Catholics in England; led by Guy Fawkes
Type of:
game, plot, secret plan
a secret scheme to do something (especially something underhand or illegal)

v engage in plotting or enter into a conspiracy, swear together

Synonyms:
complot, conjure, conspire, machinate
Types:
coconspire
conspire together
Type of:
plot
plan secretly, usually something illegal

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a life-long learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.