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Wise Guy Terms, Mob Lingo

There are two types of wise-guys. In gambling there are the guys who are really good at sports betting and knowing their way around the casinos tables. Then there there are the made guys,  the mob guys; the wiseguys, and many times they are one in the same. Here are some common terms most often used.


Action - A term that can have several meanings. It could mean the income brought in to Organized Crime from illegal activity, as I want in on the action. Also, sometimes used to refer what people are betting on most often and/or how much is being wagered.

Associate - Someone who is not actually in the Mob, but who works for a Made Guy, usually running errands like making deliveries and pickups or sending messages.

Beef - May be a disagreement between two gangsters. It can also be hard feelings felt by one Mafioso toward another. If two Wise Guys had a beef with each other most likely it would have to get settled by one of the higher ups.

Black Book - A keep out list the F.B.I. has on Mafia members or game cheats who are not allowed in certain areas. Al Capone was in the black book. You may remember the movie Casino in which Sam (Bobby DiNero) tells Nikki (Joe Pesci that if he keeps cheating the casino he will end up in the F.B.I. black book.

Book - A person or establishment that accepts wagers on sports betting events such as football or horse racing. A book can be a legal entity, but in most cases, it is an illegal operation. Bookmaker - See book. Books - Membership rolls of the Mafia families. The books need to be open to make new members.

Bookie - Short for Bookmaker.

Bookmaker - The one who actually takes the bets.

Borgata - The Family. The basic structural unit of the Mafia society. The Borgata is fashioned after the Roman Empire.

Boss - Sometimes referred to as Godfather or the Don, the boss is the leader or head of a Mafia Family.

Buffer -The person or persons who shields the boss from others knowing he wants someone to carry out an illegal activity. As an example, the Don wants someone wacked so he may tell his under boss, who tells a capo to get it done, the Capo then tells a wise guy  (made guy) in the family who then gives the order to an associate, sometimes called a connected guy who is looking to score points with the family in the hopes of one day becoming a made guy. In this case there were 4 buffers buffers between the one doing the crime and the Boss.

Button - A soldier in a Mafia family. A member who can be called upon by a family boss to perform a hit.

Call in - The command for a made member to report to his Higher Ups. Most often the one being called in is not told why he is called for and its usually his best friend who has to tell him and many times results in him being bumped off.

Called for - What the made guy says when he was the one being Called in. "I got called for". It's not a good thing.

Capo - A mafia boss usually in charge of a few street crews.  Also referred to as a captain, or skipper

Capo di tutti capi - Boss of all bosses. This man is over all the Mafia families in a particular area, in New York it would be over the entire Commission. The last real Capo di tutti capi known in the US was John Gotti. Before him and the most well known was Carlo Gambino.

Caporegime - Like a capo, but often used to refer to more important or higher up leaders.

Clock - Can mean 1 of 3 things; to knock someone out with a blow to the head as in "I’m gonna clock him". Having someone’s M/O, know a person’s habits or moves as in "I got your number" (clock). To watch someone’s daily moves so you know what he's up to, or if he is playing two sides, maybe a rat type of thing.

Commission - The top member or Don of each Mafia family sits on this group. These guys are the ones that make the rules and interpret rules; the Supreme Court if you will. Only the Commission can give the ok, order or Go-Ahead to kill a Mafia Don (Boss).

Connected - A Made Guys associate is called a connected guy. Low man in the Mafia hierarchy.

Consigliere - In Italian this word means counselor, however the position is in reality not one of council, but more as the one who introduces or brings others to the Don who have a problem or request. I've always considered him to be third in line behind the Boss and under boss.  

Contract - A term referring to an order to murder someone. To put a contract out is to hire, or give the job to someone to commit murder.

Cosa Nostra - What the Mafia is called in the United States. It is Italian for "our thing."

Don: the head of the family; see boss.

Earner - A member or an associate of the mob that brings in money through either legal or illegal enterprises. If he is a "Good Earner" he is much more valuable to the Family.>

Enforcer: a person who threatens, maims, or kills someone who doesn't cooperate with Family rules or deals.

Executive Game: a special-event card game for celebrities and other high-rollers.

Family: an organized crime clan, like the Corleone’s, the Gambino’s, or the Sopranos.

Fahnapala: The old timers would say "Ah-Fa-Napala which really means go to Naples. They used this phrase to avoid saying "Go to Hell” when they were around kids or other people they didn’t want to swear in front of. 

Friend of mine: introduction of a third person who is not a member of the Family but who can be vouched for by a Family member.

Friend of Ours: To introduced a Made Member to another Made Member.

G: a grand; a thousand dollars, large, as in 5 larges is 5 thousand dollars.

Goomah (sometimes pronounced "goomar"): A Made Guys mistress.

Goombah: Close friend, like a relative

Juice: the interest paid to a loan shark for the loan; also see vig.

Lam: To lay low, go into hiding.

Large: a thousand, a grand, a G.

Made guy: an indoctrinated member of the Family. You pledge your allegiance and loyalty to the boss and the family for life.This loyalty must be stronger than the loyalty to your wife, parents and children.

Message job: placing the bullet in someone's body such that a specific message is sent to that person's crew or family.

The Mob: a single organized crime family; or all organized crime families together.

Mobbed up: connected to the mob.

Mortadella: derived from the Italian lunch similar to boloney, meaning a loser. As in "Guy's a friggin mortadella.

No show jobs: Many scrap demolition, waste management company’s and unions as well construction were owned or controlled by the mob. They would place associates in positions there, but those positions were a cover for "workers"  who got them,  do errands or other things for the mob. These were called no-show-jobs.

Omertá:  Mafia vow of silence. In other words, don't rat on your friends.  Transgression is punishable by death.

Ooo-batz: tu-pazzo, another word for crazy. 

Outfit: Term used only in Chicago for the Mafia, or Mob..

Paying tribute: giving the boss a cut of the deal.

Piece: A gun.

Pinched: to get caught by the cops.

Rat: one who snitches or squeals after having been pinched.

Shakedown: to blackmail or try to get money from someone; also to give someone a scare.

Shy: the interest charged on loans by loan sharks.

Shylock : Another word for loan-shark, one who lends money at a high interest rate

Skim: To take money from a business where people are looking the other way. The movie casino shows a good example when mob associates are shown taking money from the counting and everyone looks the other way.

Skipper: In the ranks of the Mafia the Skipper would be like the capo Capo or Captain. Starting at the top he would be the number four man. In the true movie Donnie Brasco, Lefty Ruggiero from the Bonanno Family played by Al Pacino tells Donnie Brasco (Jonny Depp)  what the the hierarchy  is from the bottom to the top " the connected guy, the made (wise) guy, the skipper, the boss.

Soldier: the bottom-level member of an organized crime Family, as in "foot soldiers.

Stand-up guy: someone who refuses to rat out the Family no matter what the pressure, offer, or threat.

Taste: a percentage of the take. Big Al gets a big taste from all the rackets.

This thing of ours: a mob family, or the entire mob.

Underboss: the second in command to the boss.

Vig: the interest paid to a loan shark for the loan. Abbreviation of vigorish; also see juice. Usually two points or 2%.

Waste management business: When asked what line of work are you in many wise guys would use this business, I’m a union worker was another. It should be noted however the Mob often was associated with and made money with one or both.

Whack: to murder;  hit, pop, burn, put a contract out, See clip,.

Wise-guy: a made guy.

Young Turks: Younger, less traditional generation of Mafiosi. Less likely to live by the old rules.

Zips: One word for what the American Mafia calls Hit Men from back in the old country. They are sometimes referred to as Cousins or Cugino.

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