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In the American Mafia a made man is a fully initiated member of the Mafia. To become “made”, an associate first must be Italian or of Italian descent and sponsored by another made man. An inductee will be required to take the oath of Omertà, the mafia code of silence. After the induction ceremony, the associate becomes a “made man” and holds the rank of soldier (Italian: soldato) in the Mafia hierarchy.
Other common names for members include man of honor (Italian: uomo d’onore), man of respect (Italian: uomo di rispetto), one of us, friend of ours, good fella, and wiseguy; although the last two terms can also apply to non-initiated Mafia associates who work closely with the Mafia, rather than just official “made men.” Earning or making one’s “bones” or “button” or becoming a “button man” for the Mafia is usually synonymous with becoming a “made man”.
Other street terms for being initiated into the Mafia include being “straightened out” or “baptized”, and earning one’s “badge”. Soldato (Italian for “soldier”) is also usually synonymous with made man, as one must generally be officially “made” to move from the rank of “associate” to the rank of soldato. “The books are open” is a phrase used in the Mafia to indicate that a particular Mafia family is ready to accept new members; conversely, if a family is unwilling or unable to accept new members, the “books are closed.” In Sicily, the proper term for a member of the Sicilian Mafia is in Italian uomo d’onore, or in Sicilian omu d’onuri. Mafioso is a common term used colloquially and by the press and academics, but it is generally not used by members of the Italian-American and Sicilian Mafia themselves.