What Mobster’s Expressions Really Mean: An Investigation


Mobsters have a special way of speaking that is all their own, which you probably already know, having watched any number of the excellent mafia-themed films available on Netflix and your various cable channels. The New York Times has an intriguing look into some of the more “esoteric” of those expressions, as revealed by secretly recorded conversations between Vincent Basciano and mob boss Joseph Massino during Basciano’s trial for the murder of Randolph Pizzolo. There are many colorful terms and phrases!

Or, as the Times puts it,

The two conversations between the former Bonanno crime family leaders that were played in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Wednesday were littered with shorthand and code phrases that may puzzle the lay public, but seemed natural to Mr. Massino.

Natural, indeed. Let’s investigate.

“to clip” = to murder
expletives = expletives
“boob” = stupid person
“strip” = this is never defined but we assume it means to remove something from someone, or the clubs that have the girls.
“brokester” = someone who doesn’t have any money, borrows from others, and “forgets to pay” (See also: bum, loser, blogger)
“chase” = get out of here [pron: Geht Outtah Heah]
“it wasn’t me” = someone else did it
“you know what I’m saying?” = or maybe they didn’t [“It wasn’t him, but it really was him,” Mr. Massino said of how he interpreted Mr. Basciano’s statement.]
“loyalty” = sending your mob boss’s wife $50,000 in a bottle of Dom Perignon so she can take care of herself after he’s sent to prison.

Bonus: “I Heard You Paint Houses” apparently refers to the mob slang for contract killings, due to “the resulting blood splatter on walls and floors.”

Try to use one of these every day for a week. Language is so broadening.

At a Mafia Murder Trial, a Lesson in Mob Jargon [NYT]


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 14, 2011

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