Definition of Mafia in US 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 behavioral code.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He and several Sicilian businessmen are charged with running legitimate companies as fronts for the Mafia.’
    • ‘Women in the Mafia have been documented as a rising trend in Italy's criminal underworld.’
    • ‘The goal of the police campaign is to drive the Mafia out of the city and take Chicago back.’
    • ‘In fact, he has stood trial from 1993 on charges of corruption and membership of the Mafia.’
    1. 1.1 Any organized group using extortion and other criminal methods.
      • ‘There must be a solid hierarchy and system of protection safeguarded by organized crime syndicates or mafia.’
      • ‘Often sex rackets and drug mafias operate under the veil of these centres.’
      • ‘Smuggling, bribery, protection rackets and the rise of criminal mafias are some of the common symptoms of rigidly controlled economies.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 A closed group of people in a particular field, having a controlling influence.
      ‘the conservative top tennis mafia’
      • ‘Thieves, vandals, and con artists appeared, and online mafias emerged.’
      • ‘Sandalwood mafias thrive due to the political patronage.’
      • ‘Leaving the court mafia intact would make the fight against corruption useless.’
      • ‘Non-governmental agencies should play a key role in working against forest mafias.’
      • ‘It looks to Bob like the pizza Mafia is out to get him, but the pizza parlors are victims too.’


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