The musical Cabaret was named after a somewhat antiquated synonym for "nightclub" because it was set in one. The term was borrowed in the mid-seventeenth century from French, where it meant "tavern". That's of uncertain origin, but thought to be from the Middle Dutch cambret, with the same definition. Cambret would in turn be a diminutive of the the Old French word for "chamber", cambre (also the etymon of our modern word chamber), and, as I've previously discussed on this blog, that traces to the Latin word camera, which was used to describe rooms with arched ceilings (this eventually derives from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning "bend"). There is also a plant genus called cabaret, but that appears to be entirely unrelated, probably deriving from Latin cobretum, which was applied to a type of flower in the rush family.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.