Definitions

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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A Japanese organized crime gang
  • n. A member of a Japanese organized crime gang

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

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

Etymologies

Japanese, good-for-nothing, gambler, racketeer.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Japanese, やくざ (Wiktionary)

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.

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  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • In 1997, the chairman of Japan's then largest bank, Dai-Ichi Kangyo, was convicted of lending billions of yen to members of Japanese organized-crime groups, collectively called the yakuza.

    TIME.com: Top Stories

  • The seats allowed the gangsters, known as yakuza, to be clearly visible during television broadcasts of the bouts, a brazen display that sumo experts said was aimed at cheering up an incarcerated syndicate boss watching from prison.

    News On Japan

  • The yakuza are the members of traditional organised crime gangs in Japan.

    Top stories from Times Online

  • Japanese gangsters, known as yakuza, once operated from well-marked offices, often with signs out front and symbols of their trade such as lanterns and samurai swords visible through the windows.

    ABC News: ABCNews

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