1 a : a hiding place; especially : one used by settlers, explorers, or campers for concealing and preserving provisions or implements b : a secure place of storage
2 a : something that is hidden or stored in a cache b : a group of artifacts occurring alone or with a burial
3 a : the hibernation place of a group of insects (as a hole in the ground b : the mass of insects hibernating in such a place--"cache."
--Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (6 Apr. 2007).
The deer had been hung in a thicket of dwarfed cedars; but when we reached the place we found nothing save scattered pieces of their carcasses, and the soft mud was tramped all over with round, deeply marked footprints, some of them but a few hours old, showing that the plunderers of our cache were a pair of cougars—"mountain lions," as they are called by the Westerners.
--Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Ranch Life and the Hunting-Trail. 1896. (http://www.bartleby.com/54/8.html)
French, hiding place, from cacher to hide, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin coacticare to press together, from Latin coactare to compel, from coactus, past participle of cogere to drive together, compel
Sometimes we hear cache (pronounced cash) erroneously exchanged for cachet (pronounced cash-AA). One English usage website, using reporters as a straw man, explains the error this way:
“Cache” comes from the French verb cacher, meaning “to hide,” and in English is pronounced exactly like the word “cash.” But reporters speaking of a cache (hidden hoard) of weapons or drugs often mispronounce it to sound like cachet—“ca-SHAY'” —a word with a very different meaning: originally a seal affixed to a document, now a quality attributed to anything with authority or prestige. Rolex watches have cachet.
--Common Errors in English Usage (http://wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html#errors)
THE "COMPETING TERM":
Let's now look at what we might call--in the context of correct word usage--the "competing term," which happens to end with a "t":
cachet n. [cash-AA']
1 a : a seal or stamp that is used especially as a mark of official approval
b : an indication or sign of approval usually carrying with it great prestige
2 a : a characteristic feature or quality conferring prestige or distinction or inspiring respect
b : high status : prestige
--Webster's Third New International Dictionary,Unabridged. Merriam-Webster,
2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (6 Apr. 2007).
--Andrew Blum, "Up in the Sky Dept. Rare Bird" The New Yorker, April 2, 2007.
Cache--with no final "t" and pronounced "cash"--is a hiding place, as in . . .
--1856 KANE Arct. Expl. I. xii. 138 (OED Online)
. . . WHEREAS . . .
cachet--ending with a "t" and pronounced cash-AA'--means prestige, high status; the quality of being respected or admired, as in . . . "The Dorsey levite [dress]..is very stylish; it is difficult to make and still more difficult to wear, and will consequently retain its cachet and not become common."
--1882 Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) 27 Apr. 3/1 (OED).
RHYMING DEVICES FOR REMEMBERING:
"Sally sashays with a classy cachet."
"Mac stashed the cash in the cache."
It is highly likely that the computer you are using at this moment contains a cache. You will not be surprised to learn that a computer's cache handles storage, storage of digital information. Webster 3 identifies such a cache, also called cache memory, as "computer memory with a very short access time used for storage of frequently used instructions or data."
"If the information is held in the cache, which can be thought of as very fast on-chip local memory, then only two clock cycles are required."
--1987 Electronics & Wireless World Jan. 105/1 (OED Online).