yakuza

[yah-koo-zah]
noun, plural ya·ku·za.
  1. any of various tightly knit Japanese criminal organizations having a ritualistic, strict code of honor.
  2. such organizations collectively.
  3. a member of such an organization; gangster.

Origin of yakuza

1960–65; < Japanese: racketeer, gambler, good-for-nothing, useless, from the name of a game in which the worst hand is of three cards marked ya eight, ku nine (< Middle Chinese, equivalent to Chinese jiǒu), and -za three (combining form of sa(n) < Middle Chinese, equivalent to Chinese sān)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for yakuza

Contemporary Examples of yakuza

  • The Japanese judges have established that yakuza bosses have “employer liability” for the actions of their subordinates.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Case of the Yakking Yakuza

    Jake Adelstein

    September 16, 2014

  • The yakuza were traditionally federations of gamblers (bakuto) and street merchants (tekiya).

    The Daily Beast logo
    Where Have Japan’s Yakuza Gone?

    Jake Adelstein, Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky

    March 9, 2014

  • Japanese law enforcement uses all the laws available to crack down on the yakuza.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Where Have Japan’s Yakuza Gone?

    Jake Adelstein, Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky

    March 9, 2014

  • According to the National Police Agency, yakuza membership peaked in 1963, at approximately 184,100 members.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Where Have Japan’s Yakuza Gone?

    Jake Adelstein, Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky

    March 9, 2014

  • In Kyushu, where the yakuza are deeply rooted, they are not leaving with a whimper, they are leaving with a bang.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Where Have Japan’s Yakuza Gone?

    Jake Adelstein, Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky

    March 9, 2014


British Dictionary definitions for yakuza

yakuza

noun plural -kuza
  1. the yakuza a Japanese criminal organization involved in illegal gambling, extortion, gun-running, etc
  2. a member of this organization

Word Origin for yakuza

C20: from Japanese ya eight + ku nine + za three, the worst hand in a game of cards
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

Word Origin and History for yakuza
n.

traditional Japanese organized crime cartel, literally "eight-nine-three" (ya, ku, sa) the losing hand in the traditional baccarat-like Japanese card game Oicho-Kabu. The notion may be "good for nothing," or "bad luck" (such as that suffered by someone who runs afoul of them), or it may be a reference to the fact that a player who draws this hand requires great skill to win.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper