Administration: The upper-level power structure of an organized crime Family composed of the boss, underboss, and consigliere — the “holy trinity. Family capos (or captains) are also technically part of the overall administration of a Family.
A hot place: A location under constant surveillance and a target of law enforcement.
Associate: Someone who works with and for wiseguys but who hasn’t been sworn in as a member of the Family. This is as far as a non-Italian affiliate will ever go within the Family. Italian associates have the potential to become an inducted member if so “sponsored” by an established Family member.
Babania: Heroin, as in dealing. Lucrative, but risky for mob insiders because if they’re busted, long prison terms might compel them to cut a deal and squeal.
Babbo: A dope, idiot, or useless underling.
Beard: An individual who fronts for a business or operation. The “upfront guy” who is represented to be the owner or boss of the business or operation, thereby, hiding the people who have true ownership. An example would be a businessman with no police record who would apply for a liquor license to run a nightclub on behalf of a wiseguy. He would be the “beard” so as to obtain the licensing.
Beef: A complaint or disagreement within the organization usually discussed during a sit-down with higher-ups in the Family.
Borgata: A crime Family; brugad.
Boss: The head of the crime Family or borgata. He has absolute authority over all Family members and gives sole permission to kill somebody, induct new members, and typically earns a percentage of all Family rackets and operations.
Boss of Bosses; Capo di tutti capi: While no one proclaims himself the Boss of Bosses anymore, the press awards this title to whomever they feel is the boss of the strongest of the five Families of New York; also said to preside over Commision meetings.
Broken: Demoted in rank; “knocked down.”
Brugad: A crime family; borgata.
Biscuit: A gun, or a narcotic pill. As in “Make sure your biscuit’s loaded.” Or “I think she on biscuits!”
Buckwheats: A particularly vicious beating or killing in which the victim is either tortured or prolonged to make the victim suffer. As in, “They gave him a real buckwheats killing.” Or, to take your punishment as in “I had to take my buckwheats!”
Bust Out: To either fraudulently “bankrupt” a business; or refers to a mob guy who’s always broke. As in, “He’s been a bust out all his life.”
Button Man: A “made” member of the Mafia; soldier, wiseguy, goodfella, straightened out, Man of Honor.
Buy him a hat: A phrase typically used to connote a policeman or other law enforcement officer on the take. As in, “I bought the cop a hat.”
Cafone: An Italian word used to describe a low class or ignorant individual.
Capo: Ranking member of a Family who heads a crew (or group) of soldiers; a skipper, short for capodecina.
Capo di tutti capi: See Boss of Bosses.
Chased: To be banished from the Mafia and barred from associating or doing business with any made members. The punishment is merciful in that the offender is spared death.
Cleaning: As in, “To dry clean yourself”. To take the necessary steps to drive around while watching your rearview mirror and/or stopping at various locals to avoid being followed by law enforcement.
Clip: To murder. As in, “Did you hear? They clipped Anthony last week.”
Clock: To keep track of someone’s movements and activities.
Comare: A Mafia mistress or a wiseguy’s girlfriend; “goumada” (slang pronunciation.)
Come in: To go see the boss when summoned.
Commission, The: The Mafia “ruling body”. It is typically a panel made up of the bosses of the five New York Families: Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, Colombo, and Bonanno. Sometimes it includes representatives from other U.S. Families, such as Chicago.
Compare: An Italian word meaning “godfather”; crony, close pal, or buddy.
Consigliere: The counselor or advisor in a crime Family, usually a senior and seasoned member who handles disputes within the Family ranks and with that of other Families.
Contract: A murder assignment.
Cosa Nostra: Italian for “this thing of ours”; a mob Family, the Mafia.
Cowboy: A wild, unpredictable mob member who does not follow rules or tradition. As in, “This guy’s a real cowboy.”
Crash car: A crash car is a diversion car used during a hit or a robbery to thwart any oncoming police car. The crash car literally blocks or “crashes” any pursuing vehicles.
Crew: A group of soldiers and associates under the direction of a Family capodecina (or captain).
Cucuzza: Italian word for cucumber. Italians use it as a derogatory phrase to mean an idiot or dummy. As in “He’s a real cucuzza!”
Cugine: Italian word meaning “cousin”. Used as a street phrase to connote a young Italian man.
DG: A degenerate gambler. As in, “He’s a real DG.”
Do a piece of work: To murder; see burn.
Dunsky: A well-worn, old-fashioned term used by knockaround guys and mafia members in the NY/NJ underworld to denote a fellow who is either an “inducted” member of the Mafia, or a fellow who carries himself as if he is one. As in “who the fuck does this guy think he is, walking around like he’s a fucking dunsky?”
Earner: Someone whose expertise is making money for the Family.
Empty suit: Someone with nothing to offer who tries to hang around with mobsters.
Enforcer: A person who threatens, maims, or kills someone who doesn’t cooperate with Family rules or deals.
Fence: A receiver and distributor of stolen goods or cargo.
Fence Jumper: An underworld associate or inducted member who, while aligned with one Family, abruptly changes crews or Family allegiance. He is referred to as a “fence jumper”, a derogatory term, meaning that he jumped from one crew to the next.
Fifty/Fifty runner: A bookmaker who works in partnership with a bookmaking office or “bank”. Typically, the runner will provide the customers and control the collections and payofffs, and the bank will provide the bankroll should a betting customer win and handles the logistics of the office, receiving the telephone bets and keeping records. The runner and the “bank” will split any profit fifty/fifty (this is also known as having a “half sheet”.
Flipped: To become an informant or a cooperating witness. As in, “As soon as Tony got arrested, he flipped to the government.
Friend of mine: Literally means just that, a personal friend, not a member of a mafia Family.
Friend of ours: When introducing one inducted member to another inducted member by a third inducted member.
From the other side: A Sicilian/Italian-born individual. As in “He comes from the other side.”
Fugazy: A phony or counterfeit item; not the real thing. As in “These twenty dollars bills are fugazy!”
Gavone: See cafone.
Get a place ready: To find a burial site.
Gift: A bribe; sometimes for a juror.
Give a pass: To grant a reprieve from being whacked.
Going: About to be whacked.
Going south: Stealing, passing money under the table, or going on the lam.
Good fellow: Indicates a formally inducted member of the mafia; wiseguy, straigtened out, made man, button man.
Goumada: See comare.
Ice: To murder; see burn.
Infamnia: In Italian it means an “unspeakable, disgraceful act”. As in, “To deal in narcotics is an ‘infamnia’ against God.”
Joint, the: Prison; synonyms: the can, the pen, going away to college, going on vacation.
Junk: A reference to heroin.
KG: Police jargon for a known gambler; a phrase used by police to connote anybody in the gambling rackets.
Knockaround guy: “A street guy.” It can define anyone from a mere associate up to a boss. As in, “He’s been a knockaround guy his whole life.”
Loanshark: Someone who lends mob money at an exorbitant interest rate; a shylock.
Lugger: Because card games and dice games are often “floating” games with the location kept secret to prevent against police raids and arrests, a “lugger” is often used. Prospective players will congregate at a pre-determined location and be driven to the game surreptitiously by a “lugger”, keeping the location of the game hidden.
Lupara Bianco: In Italian, it literally means, “white shotgun” or “white death”. It is a phrase used both in Sicily and America to denote a killing where the body is made to disappear. The body is not left in the street.
Made: To be sworn into La Cosa Nostra; synonyms: to be “straightened out”, to get your button.
Make a marriage: To bring two parties together for legitimate or illegitimate Family issues.
Mamaluke: Meaning an idiot. As in, “He’s a real mamaluke!”
Mattresses, hitting the, taking to the: Going to war with a rival Family or gang.
Mobbed-up: An old-time phrase used to indicate someone who is involved in the underworld and connected with a Cosa Nostra Family. As in, “Tony became mobbed-up about 1926.”
Mustache Pete: An original, old-fashioned thinking Italian/Sicilian-born mafioso “from the other side.”
Nut: Mobspeak for what the total overhead is in running of a legitimate business or street racket.
Omerta: The code of silence and one of the premier vows taken when being sworn into the Family. Violation is punishable by death.
Off the record: An action taken without the knowledge or approval of the Family.
On the record: An action sanctioned by the Family.
Package: Typically referring to an illegal commodity, most typically a package containing heroin or narcotics, counterfeit money, a package of real money, when not wanting to verbally mention what the item is, you just use the general term, “package.”
Phone man: A person who works in a bookmaking office taking telephone bets is known as a “phone man.”
Piece: A gun (revolver or automatic.)
Piece of work: S murder. As in, “He just did a nice piece of work.” Another meaning is a tough individual. As in, “Vito was a real tough piece of work.”
Pop: To murder. As in, “Somebody should pop him.”
Popcorn: To be naive; or a sucker or a “mark”. As in, “This guys a real popcorn!”
Problem: A liability, someone likely to be whacked.
Pushing in: Extortion, shake-down, or inflitrating a business or racket. As in, “They pushed in on his bar business.”
Rat: A member who violates Omerta; synonyms: squealer, canary, snitch, stool pigeon, yellow dog.
Representante: An Italian phrase meaning “the boss” or head of a mafia Family. In otherwords, the representative of the entire membership.
Satisfaction: After a complaint to the Family heirarchy, “to get satisfaction” is to have an opponent killed or sanctioned. As in, “The boss gave Anthony his satisfaction by letting him kill Frank.”
Shelved: When the hierarchy of a Family, to punish a member, puts him on the “shelf”. Basically, it’s the practice of stripping a made member of his rights and responsibilities in that he is no longer to be recognized and given the respect of an inducted member. It is a merciful punishment in that the individual is not killed…”shelved” instead. This can be permanent or temporary depending on his offense and at the whim of the hierarchy.
Shylock: See loanshark.
Sitdown: A meeting between organized crime members or between Families to settle disputes.
Skim: Unreported (before tax profits). As in skimming money and not reporting to the IRS.
Skipper: A capo.
Stand-up Guy: someone who refuses to rat out the Family no matter what the pressure, offer, or threat.
Straightened-out: a euphemism to indicate a hoodlum or underworld figure who has been formally inducted into a mafia Family. Other terms used are “button guy,” “made guy,” and “goodfellow”. As in, “Did you hear the news? I hear they straightened Vito out about three months ago.”
The Books: Euphemism for membership in the Family since nothing is ever written down. When there is an availability (when someone dies), the books are “opened”. When no one is being “made”, the books are “closed.”
The Under: The underboss or second in command of a mafia Family.
To be with: To be affiliated with an organized crime member. As in, “He’s been ‘with’ so and so for years!”
To clean: As in “make sure you’re clean when you come.” It means to not carry a gun, or to drive around and watch if any law enforcement is on you; to shake any law enforcement “tail.”
To get a workout: A beating. As in, “I think this guy needs good a workout!”
Trickster: A thief; someone who commits high-income scores, burglaries, or robberies. As in “He’s been a great trickster all his life!”
Tropicana: Vigorish, juice, or interest on a shylock loan. As in, “Make sure he pays the tropicana!”
Swag: Stolen goods; acronym for “stolen without a gun.”
Vig: The interest payment on a loan from a loanshark. Short for “vigorish”. Synonym: juice.
Vouch for: To personally guarantee — with one’s life– the reputation of someone dealing with the Family.
Walk talk, take a walk: To conduct a discussion outdoors so as not to be overheard by law enforcement “bugs” or surveilled by authorities. Typically while walking up and down the block.
Whack: To murder; see clip.
Young Turks: Younger, less traditional generation of mafiosi. Less likely to live by the old rules.
Ziganette: A popular Sicilian card game played both in Italy and America. Mob families make a lot of money operating a ziganette game in that the stakes can run into thousands of dollars per hand.
Zip: A member born in Sicily or Italy.