dom·​i·​no | \ ˈdä-mə-ˌnō How to pronounce domino (audio) \
plural dominoes or dominos

Definition of domino

1a(1) : a long loose hooded cloak usually worn with a half mask as a masquerade costume
(2) : a half mask worn over the eyes with a masquerade costume
b : a person wearing a domino
2a : a flat rectangular block (as of wood or plastic) whose face is divided into two equal parts that are blank or bear usually from one to six dots arranged as on dice faces
b dominoes or dominos plural in form but usually singular in construction : any of several games played with a set of usually 28 dominoes
3 : a member of a group (as of nations) expected to behave in accordance with the domino theory

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The History of Domino

The origin of dominoes is rather obscure, and that is as true of the word as it is of the game. Both appeared in France shortly after 1750. In both English and French, domino earlier denoted a long hooded cloak worn together with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade. It is an even earlier sense, however, that may link the garment with the playing piece. In French, domino originally referred to a cape worn by a priest over his surplice. Domino pieces were once made with ebony blacks and ivory faces, and it has been suggested that the playing piece brought to mind the priest’s black domino contrasting with the white surplice.

Examples of domino in a Sentence

Dominoes is one of my favorite games.
Recent Examples on the Web Scientists have only begun to consider the domino effects. Catrin Einhorn New York Times, Star Tribune, 10 July 2021 Scientists have only begun to consider the domino effects. New York Times, 9 July 2021 Winkelmann said that the risk of climate domino effects occurring rises between warming of just 1 to 3 degrees Celsius—potentially within the limits for global warming set by the Paris Agreement. David Vetter, Forbes, 3 June 2021 The first domino fell on Thursday in what is expected to be a busy trade deadline season for the Diamondbacks, who have traded outfielder Tim Locastro to the New York Yankees in exchange for minor league right-hander Keegan Curtis. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 2 July 2021 Round and square ones in multiple sizes are useful when you’re inspired to do some pie marquetry, layer them domino-style to make a border or stripes. Beth Segal, cleveland, 4 June 2021 While Alabama hosts a bevy of 2022 recruits, its biggest target of the summer could be the final domino to fall in the 2021 class. Mike Rodak |, al, 2 June 2021 The last and most important domino to fall is Google Chrome, which controls two-thirds of the global browser market. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, 12 June 2021 The first domino was the stop movement order from the secretary of defense in March 2020, which prevented domestic travel for all department of defense military personnel. Tawney Beans, The Enquirer, 11 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'domino.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of domino

circa 1694, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for domino

French, probably from Latin (in the ritual formula benedicamus Domino let us bless the Lord)

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Time Traveler for domino

Time Traveler

The first known use of domino was circa 1694

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Dictionary Entries Near domino

dominium utile


domino bridge

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Statistics for domino

Last Updated

21 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Domino.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for domino



English Language Learners Definition of domino

: a small flat rectangular block made of wood or plastic that has one or more dots on one side and that is used in playing games
: a game played with dominoes


dom·​i·​no | \ ˈdä-mə-ˌnō How to pronounce domino (audio) \
plural dominoes or dominos

Kids Definition of domino

: one of a set of flat oblong dotted pieces used in playing a game ( dominoes )


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