A syndicate is a self-organizing group of individuals, companies, corporations or entities formed to transact some specific business, to pursue or promote a shared interest. In most cases formed groups aim to scale up their profits. Although there are many legal syndicates formed around the world, the usage of the term "the syndicate" in colloquial English often refers to one involved in illegal activities.
The term is also associated with anarchist theory, specifically anarcho-syndicalism, in which it forms an alternative to both the nation state and capitalist corporations.
In the case of criminal activity, the syndicate is there to promote, and engage in, organized crime, that is, organizations which run common illegal businesses on a large, national, or international scale. The subunit of the syndicate is a crime family or clan, organized by blood relationships, as seen in the Italian Mafia and the Italian American Mafia crime families (the Five Families dominating New York City crime, namely, the Gambino crime family, Genovese crime family, Lucchese crime family, Bonanno crime family, and the Colombo crime family).
In media, syndicates are organizations by name and credit. For example, BBC Radio International is a radio syndicated business. A news ticker, residing in the lower third of the television screen image, usually shows syndicated news stories.