yakuza

yakuza

[yah-koo-zah]
noun, plural yakuza.
1.
any of various tightly knit Japanese criminal organizations having a ritualistic, strict code of honor.
2.
such organizations collectively.
3.
a member of such an organization; gangster.

Origin:
1960–65; < Japanese: racketeer, gambler, good-for-nothing, useless, from the name of a game in which the worst hand is of three cards marked ya eight, ku nine (< Middle Chinese, equivalent to Chinese jiǒu), and -za three (combining form of sa(n) < Middle Chinese, equivalent to Chinese sān)

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World English Dictionary
yakuza (jəˈkuːzə)
 
n , pl -kuza
1.  the yakuza a Japanese criminal organization involved in illegal gambling, extortion, gun-running, etc
2.  a member of this organization
 
[C20: from Japanese ya eight + ku nine + za three, the worst hand in a game of cards]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

yakuza
traditional Japanese organized crime cartel, lit. "eight-nine-three" (ya, ku, sa) the losing hand in the traditional baccarat-like Japanese card game Oicho-Kabu. The notion may be "good for nothing," or "bad luck" (in someone who runs afoul of them), or it may be a reference to the fact that a player
who draws this hand requires great skill to win.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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