cabal (n.)

1520s, "mystical interpretation of the Old Testament," later "an intriguing society, a small group meeting privately" (1660s), from French cabal, which had both senses, from Medieval Latin cabbala (see cabbala). Popularized in English 1673 as an acronym for five intriguing ministers of Charles II (Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale), which gave the word its sinister connotations.

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Definitions of cabal from WordNet
cabal (n.)
a clique (often secret) that seeks power usually through intrigue;
Synonyms: faction / junto / camarilla
cabal (n.)
a plot to carry out some harmful or illegal act (especially a political plot);
Synonyms: conspiracy
cabal (v.)
engage in plotting or enter into a conspiracy, swear together;
Synonyms: conspire / complot / conjure / machinate