ya·​ku·​za | \ ˈyä-ku̇-ˌzä How to pronounce yakuza (audio) \
plural yakuza

Definition of yakuza

1 : a Japanese gangster
2 : an organized crime syndicate in Japan

Examples of yakuza in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Directed by the comedian, actor and filmmaker Takeshi Kitano, this crime film that was released in Japan in 1990 follows a dispirited baseball player (Masahiko Ono) who teams up with a friend to get revenge on a local yakuza that attacked his coach. Sara Aridi, New York Times, "What’s on TV Sunday: ‘Outlander’ and ‘Last Week Tonight’," 16 Feb. 2020 Their mission pairs them with an eccentric yakuza boss (Kitano) who leads them deep into the underworld. Sara Aridi, New York Times, "What’s on TV Sunday: ‘Outlander’ and ‘Last Week Tonight’," 16 Feb. 2020 Its bodiless state comes courtesy of yakuza vengeance. BostonGlobe.com, "So expect the upending of expectations: visual, emotional, tonal, generic. Especially generic. Is “First Love” a comedy? A crime thriller? A love story? An advertorial for subscriptions to," 3 Oct. 2019 Adelstein’s novel and the series follows his first-hand account of covering the metropolitan police beat as an American reporter working for Tokyo newspaper, putting him in the path of the yakuza. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Miami Vice to Tokyo Vice: Michael Mann to direct Ansel Elgort in HBO Max series," 22 Oct. 2019 Sold to a yakuza clan to work off her ne’er-do-well father’s debts, she’s been locked away and forced into drug addiction and prostitution. Los Angeles Times, "Review: A boxer takes on the mob in Takashi Miike’s joyous thriller-romance ‘First Love’," 26 Sep. 2019 Another issue: Players have been asked to cover up their many tattoos, which in Japan are associated with crime syndicates known as the yakuza. Washington Post, "Why Japan Is Hosting the Rugby World Cup," 25 Sep. 2019 As hotels and bars stock up on alcohol, some hot-spring resorts have been prodded to relax their rules on tattoos, which in Japan are associated with yakuza mobsters. The Economist, "Why Japan is learning to love rugby," 19 Sep. 2019 There are long-standing links between the Japanese entertainment world and yakuza crime clans, though they have been weakened in recent decades by laws making it an offense to have any business dealings with the gangs. Gavin J. Blair, The Hollywood Reporter, "Talent at Japan's Biggest Agency to Pledge Not to Work With Yakuza," 16 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'yakuza.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of yakuza

1964, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for yakuza

Japanese, ruffian, gangster

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The first known use of yakuza was in 1964

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Cite this Entry

“Yakuza.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yakuza. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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