domino theory


Definition of domino theory

1 : a theory that if one nation becomes Communist-controlled the neighboring nations will also become Communist-controlled
2 : the theory that if one act or event is allowed to take place a series of similar acts or events will follow

Examples of domino theory in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And didn’t the Cold War give rise to the Vietnam War, what with domino theory and all? John D'anna, azcentral, "D'Anna: Imagining a world with no politics in Hollywood," 7 Mar. 2018

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

First Known Use of domino theory

1965, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for domino theory

from the fact that if dominoes are stood on end one slightly behind the other, a slight push on the first will topple the others

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about domino theory

Time Traveler for domino theory

Time Traveler

The first known use of domino theory was in 1965

See more words from the same year

Statistics for domino theory

Cite this Entry

“Domino theory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on domino theory Encyclopedia article about domino theory

Comments on domino theory

What made you want to look up domino theory? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!