June 09, 2013
cabinet (noun)
\KAB-nit\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 a : a case or cupboard usually having doors and shelves b : a case for a radio or television2 : a group of advisers to the political head of a government
How do you use it?
Liam and his dad sanded, stained, and then painted the doors of all the kitchen cabinets.
Are you a word wiz?

"Cabinet" came to English from a language spoken in a country famous for its furniture. In which of the following languages do you think our word "cabinet" originated?

Oui, oui, you were right if you picked French. "Cabinet" entered English directly from French in the mid-1500s. However, the French ancestor of "cabinet" didn't refer to furniture; it meant "small room," deriving from "cabine," a dialect word meaning "gambling house." English "cabinet" first referred to a case for valuables, often as part of a piece of furniture. It later was used to refer to a small room, including the private chamber in which a monarch met with his or her counselors. That sense died out, but led to the use of "cabinet" to mean a group of political or governmental advisers, a meaning which is still used today.
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