My name is Chiara. In Italian that means “light” or “clear.” In this blog I am going to shed some light on the language used by the mafia so it all becomes clearer to you. The Mob has a language all it’s own. It might be fun to get familiar with some of the standard, more popular vocabulary which may come out of the “mouths of the babes” on VH1’s new show Mob Wives. If, during the course of the show, other words come out in their conversation, you will find them translated in my blog review of the episode. Now let’s get down to business!
La Cosa Nostra - translates into “Our Thing” and refers to the Mafia in the US
There are/were five Italian American crime families in New York: Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese.
The Mafia is an organization and, like any other business, ranks its members:
The Boss or Don is the head of the Mafia family. He decides who gets killed and gets a portion of all money made by his workers.
The Underboss is the one that runs the family and oversees all the other workers. He is next in line for the position of Boss. There is only one of these per family.
The Consigliere is an advisor to the Boss and assists him in making important decisions. He also represents the Don in meetings within the family and with other crime families. There is usually only one of these in a family.
Caporegimes or captains are in charge of a crew of workers/soldiers. They answer to the underboss and collect money from the workers to give to the Boss, underboss, consigliere and keeps some for himself. There can be from 2 to 20 “capos” in a family.
Soldiers are the workers, in Italian “soldati“, who earn money to give to their captain. They do what ever is asked of them by the capo or underboss and there can be 10 to 300 of them in a family.
Associates are people who work with the Mafia family, but are not members.
Common words and expressions:
Babbo - a soldier who is consider to be useless and expendable.
Burn - to murder (clip, do a piece of work, hit, ice, pop, whack, put a contract on)
Comare (goomah, goomar, goomatta) - a mafia member’s mistress, every wise guy has one.
Come heavy - bring a loaded gun
Earner - refers to those who bring in money to the Mafia family
Facia Bruta - Ugly face, what you call someone you dislike
Flip - one who breaks the omerta code and cooperates with authorities
Guests of the state - doing time in prison
Juice - the interest paid to a loanshark
Lam - lay low or go into hiding
Large - one thousand dollars, a grand, G
Made guy - join the family as a member; mother must be Italian
Mezza morta - half dead
Mock execution - beat someone up to the point of scaring the shit out of them
Omerta - code of silence
Pinched - to be caught by the police
Puttana - whore
Rat - a snitch
Shakedown - blackmail or scare someone into handing over money
Shy - interest charged by loan sharks
Shylock business - loan shark business
Spring cleaning - getting rid of or hiding evidence
Strunz - a piece of shit
Taste - a percentage of the take
Tax - to take a percentage of someone’s earnings
Wise guy - a made guy, member of the mafia.