Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A loose alliance of Japanese criminal organizations and illegal enterprises.
  • noun A Japanese gangster.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A Japanese organized crime gang
  • noun A member of a Japanese organized crime gang

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a Japanese gangster
  • noun organized crime in Japan; an alliance of criminal organizations and illegal enterprises

Etymologies

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

[Japanese yakuza, card hand consisting of eight, nine, and three (the worst possible hand in a traditional Japanese card game in which a player's final score is the last digit of the sum of the values of the player's hand), good-for-nothing, yakuza : ya, eight (from Old Japanese) + ku, nine (from Early Middle Chinese kuw’ (also the source of Mandarin jiǔ, nine), ultimately from Proto-Sino-Tibetan *d-ku; akin to Tibetan dgu) + za, alteration of san, three (from Middle Chinese sam; also the source of Mandarin sān; see sampan).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Japanese, やくざ

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Examples

  • The word yakuza itself comes from a losing hand in gambling. 893 ya-ku-za.

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  • They were called yakuza, he knew, “yaks” for short.

    A Bob Lee Swagger eBook Boxed Set

  • They were called yakuza, he knew, “yaks” for short.

    A Bob Lee Swagger eBook Boxed Set

  • They were called yakuza, he knew, “yaks” for short.

    A Bob Lee Swagger eBook Boxed Set

  • The dark, hedonistic world of the yakuza is the focus, though this story is about the illegal sex trade, a malefic home for unwanted Chinese girls, not a black market for fish.

    Webs of Discord by Jason Sizemore « Michele Lee’s Book Love

  • Keiko Itokazu, an independent legislator, said she was concerned that organized crime, known as the yakuza, would exploit casinos for prostitution and selling drugs.

  • It has denied rumors that it sought the aid of Japan's notorious organized crime syndicates, known as the yakuza, to help orchestrate the cover-up.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Keiko Itokazu, an independent legislator, said she was concerned that organized crime, known as the yakuza, would exploit casinos for prostitution and selling drugs.

    BusinessWeek.com -- Top News

  • Adelstein calls the yakuza "Goldman Sachs with guns" because of the prowess with which their groups' roughly 80,000 members infiltrate companies through extortion and intimidation.

    BusinessWeek.com -- Top News

  • Keiko Itokazu, an independent legislator, said she was concerned that organized crime, known as the yakuza, would exploit casinos for prostitution and selling drugs.

    BusinessWeek.com -- Top News

Comments

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  • The worst hand in the Japanese card game oichokabu is an eight, a nine and a three - literally "ya-ku-za" - the origin of the Japanese word for gangster, yakuza.

    December 11, 2010