Fun Etymology Tuesday – Cabal

It’s Tuesday, which means a new Fun Etymology!

Today’s word is cabal!

From around the 1520s, this word refers to a “mystical interpretation of the Old Testament”. Around the 1660s, it also came to mean “an intriguing society, a small group meeting privately”.

This word has come a long way.

From French cabal, from Medieval Latin cabbala, from Hebrew qabbalah, meaning “reception, received lore, tradition” from qibbel, meaning to receive, admit, accept.

Interestingly, though, the word didn’t become popular in English use until 1673, when it, interestingly, came to be seen as an acronym for five intriguing ministers of Charles II. Specifically Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale, whose initial letters of their surnames spelled out CABAL. The men became quite famous as they signed the Secret Treaty of Dover, which essentially allied England to France in a prospective war against the Netherlands.

And that is the story of cabal!

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