Definition of Mafia in English:



the Mafia
  • 1treated as singular or plural An organized international body of criminals, operating originally in Sicily and now especially in Italy and the US and having a complex and ruthless behavioural code.

    • ‘He and several Sicilian businessmen are charged with running legitimate companies as fronts for the Mafia.’
    • ‘In fact, he has stood trial from 1993 on charges of corruption and membership of the Mafia.’
    • ‘Under Italian criminal law it is a criminal offence to be a member of the Mafia.’
    • ‘Where Mafia and drug barons rule, investigators of any kind become targets.’
    • ‘The goal of the police campaign is to drive the Mafia out of the city and take Chicago back.’
    • ‘Women in the Mafia have been documented as a rising trend in Italy's criminal underworld.’
    1. 1.1 Any organized group of criminals resembling the Mafia in its way of operating.
      ‘the rise of criminal mafias in Russian and Eastern Europe’
      • ‘Often sex rackets and drug mafias operate under the veil of these centres.’
      • ‘Large-scale embezzlement required experienced helpers, so criminal cooperatives appeared that tended to develop into so-called mafias.’
      • ‘This milestone measure is a living tribute to the thousands of men and women who have lost their lives in pursuit of a world free of mafias, drug cartels and criminal gangs.’
      • ‘Smuggling, bribery, protection rackets and the rise of criminal mafias are some of the common symptoms of rigidly controlled economies.’
      • ‘There must be a solid hierarchy and system of protection safeguarded by organized crime syndicates or mafia.’
    2. 1.2 A group regarded as exerting a hidden sinister influence.
      ‘the British literary mafia’
      • ‘Leaving the court mafia intact would make the fight against corruption useless.’
      • ‘Sandalwood mafias thrive due to the political patronage.’
      • ‘It looks to Bob like the pizza Mafia is out to get him, but the pizza parlors are victims too.’
      • ‘Thieves, vandals, and con artists appeared, and online mafias emerged.’
      • ‘Non-governmental agencies should play a key role in working against forest mafias.’


Italian (Sicilian dialect), originally in the sense ‘bragging’.