- a hierarchically structured secret organization allegedly engaged in smuggling, racketeering, trafficking in narcotics, and other criminal activities in the U.S., Italy, and elsewhere.
- (in Sicily)
- (lowercase)a popular spirit of hostility to legal restraint and to the law, often manifesting itself in criminal acts.
- a 19th-century secret society, similar to the Camorra in Naples, that acted in this spirit.
- (often lowercase) any small powerful or influential group in an organization or field; clique.
Origin of Mafia
Examples from the Web for mafia
In the Latino community the legacy of the Mexican Mafia spans multiple generations.
The Mexican Mafia run their empire from the penitentiary to the streets of LA.
Much like the TV show Breaking Bad, the Mexican Mafia are real life methamphetamine kingpins.
As described by its inventor, there is an Honest team and a Mafia team that compete against each other.Where Chechens Go to Escape Their Surreal Past—and Risky Present
December 9, 2014
No, on the contrary, only a fraction of this country, a part which I would call the best of Italy, is against the Mafia.Days of Mafia Mayhem Are Wracking Italy Once Again
Barbie Latza Nadeau
November 22, 2014
The other fellow is probably an Italian also, and a member of the Mafia.
You'll find that my theory of the Mafia will work out all right.
I inquired, not quite knowing the ramifications of the Mafia.The Barrel Mystery
William J. (William James) Flynn
Or, for that matter, the Mafia and the organizations like it.
Now, the Trucker's Union is old and experienced, maybe, but not as old and experienced as the Mafia.
Word Origin and History for mafia
1875, from Italian Mafia "Sicilian secret society of criminals" (the prevailing sense outside Sicily), earlier, "spirit of hostility to the law and its ministers," from Italian (Sicilian) mafia "boldness, bravado," probably from Arabic mahjas "aggressive, boasting, bragging." Or perhaps from Old French mafler "to gluttonize, devour." A member is a mafioso (1870), fem. mafiosa, plural mafiosi.
A criminal organization that originated in Sicily and was brought to the United States by Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth century. The Mafia is also called the Syndicate, the Mob, and the Cosa Nostra (Our Thing). The Mafia built its power through extortion (forcing tradesmen and shopkeepers to buy Mafia protection against destruction) and by dominating the bootlegging industry (the illegal production and distribution of liquor) during Prohibition. Members of the Mafia often lead outwardly respectable lives and maintain a variety of legitimate businesses as a front, or cover, for their criminal activities, which include extortion, gambling, and narcotics distribution.