Glossary of Sicilian Words *

abigeato Cattle rustling
amministratore Steward on large estate
aratro Wooden, iron-tipped plow drawn by oxen or mules
azienda Farmstead
burgisi Smallholders ("middle peasants")
cacocciula Local clique of mafiosi (see cosca)
campiere Armed, mounted field guard on large estate
campierato Area controlled by a campiere; task of surveillance; also: tribute collected from peasants working in area
cantina Plant for processing grapes into wine
Carabinieri Local detachment of the national police force (part of the Italian Army)
chiusura Enclosure
circolo Local club for adult males
civili Gentlemen
civilta Civility
compare (cumpa') Co-parent
contadino Peasant
corona Area of intensive cultivation immediately surrounding a village
cosca (pl.: coshe) Local clique of mafiosi
cuccia Enforced tribute
curatolo Chief herdsman; foreman of the shepherds tending the estate herds;
enfiteusi Emphyteusis, copyhold. Land given with the obligation of paying rent and maintaining property. Emphyteusis may terminate in full ownership by the tenant and be inherited
fiera Local market
frane Landslides
feudo (pl.: feudi) Large estate (originally a fief), and used in ordinary language to designate a large estate
gabella Lease of an estate, usually of six years' duration
gabelloto (gabellotto) Leaseholder
girato Area of intensive cultivation around a masseria
guardiania (guardianeria) see campierato
latifondo Large landed estate
lupara From lupo, wolf; sawed-off shotgun; a specific mode of killing a man, i.e. with a lupara
mafioso Violent entrepreneur, middleman
maggese Fallow
mandria Herd of cattle or sheep
masseria Farm; as an ecological unit of land and animals, farm building
metateria Sharecropping
metatiere Sharecropper
mezzadria Sharecropping
mezzadro Sharecropper
omerta From umo, man; code of honor. The attitude that assumes that recourse to legal authority in cases of persecution by private enemies is a symptom of weakness. Common theft, for example, was considered a sign of lack of respect indicating the thief did not fear vengeance.
paese (paisi) Village, town
padrone Patron, boss, employer
partito Party
pezzo grosso Big shot
pizzu Enforced tribute (see cuccia)
ringrano Stubble field; field in which grain is sowed for the second consecutive year
societa Partnership for entrepreneurs, society
soprastante Overseer on a large estate
sulla Fodder crop. Hedysarium coronarium, a perennial legume to the Mediterranean
uomo di fiducia Man of confidence; retainer
usi civici Common use rights on feudi
villano (viddanu) Peasant, countryman
* by permission of
Anton Blok
"The Mafia of a Sicilian Village 1860-1960