noun: a small, usually secret group of people united for a common purpose
Alteration of Spanish/Portuguese junta (committee, association), from Latin jungere (to join). Ultimately from the Indo-European root yeug- (to join), which also gave us yoke, junction, jugular, adjust, syzygy, subjugate, rejoinder, jugulate, and yoga. Earliest documented use: 1641.
Usage (from Wordsmith)
“A small clique of interrelated local families, whom Smith labeled a junto, controlled both the community and the armory for much of its history.”
Roger Simon; The Machine in Context; Technology and Culture (Baltimore, Maryland); Oct 2010.