from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Slang A companion or associate, especially an older friend who acts as a patron, protector, or adviser.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person of Italian descent.
  • n. A companion, pal, close friend, or associate, used especially among Italian-American men. It sometimes has the connotation of an older friend who acts as a patron, protector or adviser.
  • n. Alternative form of gumbe, a Jamaican drum.


Probably alteration of Italian compare, godfather, from Medieval Latin compater; see compadre.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Probably originates from the Neapolitan cumpà, (Italian compare and the Sicilian cognate, cumpari, akin to Spanish compadre), and literally means "godfather," but used to denote "friend." Often used to refer to 'family friends' or friends close enough to be considered an 'aunt' or 'uncle', though not related by blood. To an English-speaking ear, the unaspirated stops of the Southern Italian dialect (especially Neapolitan) are interpreted as voiced stops, yielding "goombah." (Wiktionary)
see gumbe (Wiktionary)



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  • 1) a close friend or associate, especially among Italian-American men
    2) mafioso; broadly: gangster
    3) a macho Italian-American man

    May 12, 2008