domino theory

noun

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 The Vietnam war discredited domino theories, e.g., if Ukraine falls, President Putin will invade and conquer all of Europe and maybe even the United States. Armstrong Williams, Baltimore Sun, 24 Mar. 2024 Two of the key theories underpinning the decision to invade—forcible democracy promotion and the domino theory—had been discredited before 2003. Foreign Affairs, 12 Dec. 2023 There is no objective reason why decisions guided by domino theory are irrational and Putin’s attack on Ukraine is not. Foreign Affairs, 24 Oct. 2023 The domino theory had the Big 12 being one of the beneficiaries of a Pac-12 implosion. Dallas News, 19 Jan. 2023 But in a podcast interview in May with Joe Oltmann, a right-wing activist in Colorado, Griffin placed his outwardly quixotic actions in the context of a sort of domino theory of how the 2020 election might still be overturned. New York Times, 19 July 2022 What about the influence of the domino theory, a key Cold War doctrine, on his decision-making? Michael Bobelian, Washington Post, 1 July 2022 More broadly, in employing the domino theory, U.S. leaders had acted as though Southeast Asia was composed of vital dominoes in the Cold War. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 10 Jan. 2022 That was the sole country Communist Vietnam ever invaded, forever undercutting the domino theory — the war’s foundational lie. New York Times, 9 June 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'domino theory.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1965, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of domino theory was in 1965

Dictionary Entries Near domino theory

Cite this Entry

“Domino theory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/domino%20theory. Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

domino theory

noun
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

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