Other forms: mafias
A mafia is a close-knit group, club, or clique. You might privately refer to the kids who ride horses after school as the "equestrian mafia."
When mafia is spelled with a lower-case m, it usually means a group with common interests that sticks together, excludes others, and protects its members. It's a flippant use of a word that mainly refers to a criminal organization, the Mafia. When you call everyone in the school play "the theater mafia," you don't mean they're violent criminals — they're just a little dramatic.
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