a. A secret criminal organization operating mainly in Sicily since the early 1800s and known for its intimidation of and retribution against law enforcement officials and witnesses.
b. A secret criminal organization operating mainly in the United States and Italy and engaged in illegal activities such as gambling, drug-dealing, protection, and prostitution.
2. Any of various similar criminal organizations, especially when dominated by members of the same nationality.
3. often mafiaInformal A tightly knit group of trusted associates, as of a political leader: " [He] is one of the personal mafia that [the chancellor] brought with him to Bonn" (Christian Science Monitor).
[Italian, back-formation from mafiuso, mafioso. Mafioso ; see Mafioso .]
1. (Sociology) 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
[C19: from Sicilian dialect of Italian, literally hostility to the law, boldness, perhaps from Arabic mahyah bragging]
(ˈmɑ fi ə, ˈmÃ¦f i ə)
1. a secret organization allegedly engaged in criminal activities in the U.S. Italy, and elsewhere.
a. (l.c. ) a spirit of hostility to the law.
b. a 19th-century secret society that acted in this spirit.
3. (l.c. ) any influential clique.
[1870–75; < Italian < Sicilian: orig. elegance, bravura, courage (orig. obscure)]
Mafia - a crime syndicate in the United States; organized in families; believed to have important relations to the Sicilian Mafia
omerta - a code of silence practiced by the Mafia; a refusal to give evidence to the police about criminal activities
crime syndicate. syndicate. mob. family - a loose affiliation of gangsters in charge of organized criminal activities
mafioso - a member of the Mafia crime syndicate in the United States
Mafia - a secret terrorist group in Sicily; originally opposed tyranny but evolved into a criminal organization in the middle of the 19th century
act of terrorism. terrorism. terrorist act - the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear
mafioso - a member of the Sicilian Mafia