ya·​ku·​za | \ˈyä-ku̇-ˌzä \
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

Think Keanu Reeves playing virtual cat-and-mouse with the yakuza in Johnny Mnemonic, or Michael Douglas pulling off corporate espionage in the world's most grandiose database in the wow-did-that-age-terribly, quasi-erotic thriller Disclosure. Peter Rubin, WIRED, "VR Is Back in Pop Culture—As a Warning," 29 June 2018 Jared Leto plays an American who becomes a member of the Japanese yakuza in this Netflix thriller directed by Martin Zandvliet. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Outsider': Film Review," 8 Mar. 2018 In the 1964 Olympics, Tokyo shooed away its organized criminals, or yakuza. The Christian Science Monitor, "Why Russians may bare their teeth at the World Cup," 13 June 2018 Tattoos, associated with yakuza, or organized crime, are generally not permitted. Hanya Yanagihara, Town & Country, "The Transporting Daily Ritual of the Japanese Evening Bath," 8 Dec. 2017 Despite his outsider status, the taciturn Nick quickly fits in well with the yakuza and their highly formal, albeit deadly, customs. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Outsider': Film Review," 8 Mar. 2018 Ishii’s tactic, in these situations, is to apply a temporary tattoo to his neck and dress like a yakuza. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, "Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry," 23 Apr. 2018 Five of his early yakuza films are presented in this deluxe boxed set, along with a 60-page illustrated collector's book. Chris Ball, cleveland.com, "Steven Spielberg's 'The Post,' now on DVD and Blu-ray (review)," 22 Apr. 2018 Nick is so readily accepted into the yakuza's ranks that there's little dramatic tension. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Outsider': Film Review," 8 Mar. 2018

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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Time Traveler for yakuza

The first known use of yakuza was in 1964

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Comments on yakuza

What made you want to look up yakuza? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


noxious or harmful

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