a hierarchically structured secret organization allegedly engaged in smuggling, racketeering, trafficking in narcotics, and other criminal activities in the U.S., Italy, and elsewhere.
(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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use Mafia in a sentence
If they aren’t exposed and discredited, we may witness the rise of a new Mafia.What My Mobster Grandfather Understood About American Capitalism | Russell Shorto | March 17, 2021 | Time
It wasn’t just his having mentored with Roy Cohn, the infamous Mafia lawyer, or rubbed shoulders throughout his career with guys like Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno.What My Mobster Grandfather Understood About American Capitalism | Russell Shorto | March 17, 2021 | Time
Magashule does have a bit of a dirty reputation, with the book Gangster State comparing him to a Mafia don.
Like the Mafia Dons of old, they will be brought down by the IRS for their financial crimes.My Dad served in WWII — he was a hero, not a loser | Peter Rosenstein | September 10, 2020 | Washington Blade
For those who have forgotten their Mafia history, that’s the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
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.
Robert Morrill, a former gang detective and author of The Mexican Mafia/The Story, said there is little the authorities can do.
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 | Anna Nemtsova | December 9, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The Mafia is more ancient and has a direct ancestry for nearly a thousand years.Italian Highways and Byways from a Motor Car | Francis Miltoun
Anyhow, he defied the Mafia, laid in a stock of revolvers and rifles, and rallied his friends around him.Courts and Criminals | Arthur Train
The Mafia might almost be called a universal conspiracy against law and order.
Either the Cammoristi, or the Mafia, or some such organisation.A Cabinet Secret | Guy Boothby
Don't act this way with these people, because they are all of the (Mala-vita) Mafia and will do you harm in an instant.The Barrel Mystery | William J. (William James) Flynn
British Dictionary definitions for Mafia
the Mafia an international secret organization founded in Sicily, probably in opposition to tyranny. It developed into a criminal organization and in the late 19th century was carried to the US by Italian immigrants
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cultural definitions for Mafia
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.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.