Mid 17th century (denoting a French inn): from Old French, literally 'wooden structure', viaMiddle Dutch from Old Picard camberet 'little room'. Current senses date from the early 20th century.
Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary, ‘In most cabaretts in France they have writ upon the walls “Dieu te regarde” [‘God is watching you’], as a good lesson to be in every man's mind’. He was referring to French inns, which is what the word cabaret meant in the 17th century. The modern sense of an entertainment in a nightclub dates from before the First World War. Cabaret is from the Old French for ‘shed’.