Definition of yakuza in US English:



  • 1A Japanese organized crime syndicate similar to the Mafia.

    • ‘You know how the yakuza works better than anybody, Tsu-kun, you know how your parents work.’
    • ‘Namie introduced her to the seedy underworld, but not the yakuza one, that being a rich teenager in Tokyo had to offer.’
    • ‘Various kinds of people came to stay there, including members of the yakuza, and given that fact, I thought it would be foolish not to learn some kind of martial art.’
    • ‘Japanese yakuza kingpin Akatora wants him because he thinks Dinosaur took his merchandise.’
    1. 1.1 A Japanese gangster or racketeer.
      • ‘Constituencies are gerrymandered, kickbacks from public works are channelled back to the party through yakuza gangsters and key policy decisions are made by party elders behind closed doors.’
      • ‘In his character-defining moment in Fireworks, Kitano planted a pair of chopsticks into the eye of an offending yakuza.’
      • ‘In Dead or Alive, Ryu, a stoic, stylish criminal with a mixed Chinese and Japanese background, leads his posse into a war against Japanese yakuza and Chinese Triad bosses in Tokyo.’
      • ‘Her world collapses when her firm forces her to take first chair defense in a murder case involving a smug yakuza who's obviously guilty.’
      • ‘In another, an ageing yakuza gangster returns to a park where he used to meet his first love.’
      • ‘The appearance of Charlie's Angel Lucy Liu as head of a powerful cartel of Japanese yakuza, adds to that sense that you are watching bad ‘angels’.’
      • ‘Joel dreams of escape from his Alaskan bondage when a couple Japanese businessmen / yakuza weighing whether to build a resort in Alaska or Hawaii arrive in Cicely to be wined and dined by Maurice.’
      • ‘Zatoichi's a reformed yakuza forever finding himself dragged into conflicts between the corrupt ruling classes and their exploited peasantry.’
      • ‘JAPAN'S yakuza gangsters are losing their ‘Robin Hood’ image as the country's deepening recession forces them to target ordinary people.’
      • ‘Films about yakuza, or Japanese gangsters, are deeply imbued with a code of honor and feature subtle moral questions.’
      • ‘One ring of yakuza gangsters, operating through connections at a major medical center in Boston, was uncovered by journalists and broken up by police a decade ago.’
      • ‘It is the story of a displaced yakuza gangster, whose crime family is killed and who flies to LA in search of his brother, only to wind up in the gangland web there.’
      • ‘Thousands of new titles on themes ranging from samurai, golf, yakuza gangsters, fantasy superheroes, sex and social satire are published each year.’
      • ‘Shizuko is a famous tango dancer and deferential wife, who is kidnapped by yakuza as payment for her businessman husband's debts.’
      • ‘In nearly every Zatoichi film, the female lead falls in love with the grubby, poor, and blind former yakuza, usually because she's drawn to his kindness and willingness to defend the weak.’
      • ‘Politics needs money to win elections and influence and pays little attention to the sources of this money (e.g., Japanese Liberal Democratic politicians and yakuza gangsters).’
      • ‘So it was perhaps inevitable that he should have turned to playing a gangster - a yakuza - in his fourth film.’
      • ‘In the eyes of an average Japanese a tattoo is considered a mark of a yakuza - a member of the Japanese mafia - or a macho symbol of members of the lower classes.’
      • ‘Tattoo art is still considered a lower-class macho symbol, traditionally practised among yakuza and construction workers.’
      • ‘Moon Child is a low budget Japanese yakuza vampire sci-fi action drama.’
      criminal, lawbreaker, offender, villain, black hat, delinquent, malefactor, culprit, wrongdoer, transgressor, sinner
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Japanese, from ya ‘eight’ + ku ‘nine’ + za ‘three’, referring to the worst hand in a gambling game.