Someone once mentioned to me (must have been a Sicilian patriot or something) that in some kind of ancient long-forgotten Sicilian slang the word "mafia" actually meant "Death to the French!"
I mean, it stands to reason. There are rumors that the Cosa Nostra was born on the very night when all Sicilians, or all Sicilians worth speaking of, anyway, rose as one and wiped out all businessmen from Anjou in Palermo and elsewhere to keep them from oppressing them economically. Or something. There's a very popular opera by Giuseppe Verdi on the subject. For obvious reasons, there is no French opera on the same subject.
The word "mafia" has been an English word for quite a while; thus, the question is legitimate: could it be true? Was it really Sicilian initially, and did it really mean "Death to the French!"? I've heard other stories ... I mean, versions ... but this one is awfully romantic, and we're all romantics at heart. Any thoughts and/or facts?