Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Consigliere

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is consigliere. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Consigliere refers to a trusted adviser or counselor. Originally, a consigliere specifically served the leader of a criminal organization such as the Mafia, but others likened to such an adviser are now sometimes called consiglieri too.

// Largely unknown to the general public, she was nonetheless a powerful Washington figure who served as the Senate leader’s trusted consigliere and political strategist.


“‘Mafia Mamma’ is an action comedy about a flaky American marketing employee and soon-to-be empty nester, Kristin (Toni Collette), who, through the demise of her grandfather, Don Giuseppe Balbano (Alessandro Bressanello), becomes the head of a major Italian crime family. Assisted by Don Giuseppe’s consigliere, Bianca (Monica Bellucci), she must take down the Romanos, a rival family, while avoiding her own assassination.” — Odie Henderson, The Boston Globe, 14 Apr. 2023

Did You Know?

If you’re a fan of The Godfather series of movies, mention of the word consigliere may already have brought to mind the character Tom Hagen. Hagen, the Corleones’ family lawyer, is famously dismissed by the Don’s successor and son Michael Corleone because he is not a “wartime consigliere.” The word consigliere comes from Italian and has been a part of English since the 17th century; it was originally used of someone who served on a council in Italy. Currently, it most commonly refers to advisers to the Mafia—a use that first appeared in English in a document from a 1963 session of the U.S. Senate. It is also used more generally for someone who is likened in some way to such an adviser.

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