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Cabal

A junto or council of intriguers. One of the Ministries of Charles II. was called a cabal (1670), because the initial letters of its members formed this acrostic: Clifford, Ashley, B uckingham, Arlington, and Lauderdale. This accident may have popularised the word, but, without doubt, we borrowed it from the French cabale, “an intriguing faction,” and Hebrew cabala, “secret knowledge.” A junto is merely an assembly; Spanish, junta, a council. ( See Notarica; Tammany Ring .)

“In dark cabals and mighty juntos met.”

Thomson.
“These ministers were emphatically called the Cabal, and they soon made the appellation so infamous that it has never since ... been used except as a term of reproach.” —Macaulay: England, vol. i. chap. ii. p. 165.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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