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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Who would have guessed that the first step in Negan’s domino chain toward evil would be a jukebox dispute? Richard Rys, Vulture, "The Walking Dead Season-Finale Recap: Jukebox Antihero," 4 Apr. 2021 But one of the more intriguing (and concerning) domino effects from this pandemic may lie at the cellular level, according to a new report from Pew Charitable Trusts. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "The weird relationship between COVID and superbugs," 11 Mar. 2021 There’s even the domino transfer: Someone gets a king mattress and gives away a queen. Ivy Eisenberg, Curbed, "Wait Long Enough and Almost Anything (Bananas, Pelotons) Shows Up on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Groups," 2 Mar. 2021 The World follows 20-year-old Lily Hevesh — the world’s most acclaimed domino toppler and the only woman in her field — in a coming-of-age story of artistry, passion, and unlikely triumph. Mia Galuppo, Billboard, "Charli XCX, Tom Petty Docs Set as SXSW Headliners for Virtual Film Fest," 10 Feb. 2021 It’s the latest move in the domino game of Sacramento appointments prompted by the election of Joe Biden as president and U.S. Sen. and former California Attorney General Kamala Harris as vice president. Phil Matier,, "San Francisco rolls out raises for city workers — some are eye-popping," 17 Jan. 2021 To find out, the researchers slotted small ultrasound transducers, roughly the size and shape of a domino, into the skulls of two rhesus macaque monkeys. Kelly Servick, Science | AAAS, "Ultrasound reads monkey brains, opening new way to control machines with thought," 22 Mar. 2021 Jane, the original No. 1 stunner: plush lips slightly agape to reveal perfectly imperfect teeth, domino-thin and smoke in her marble blue irises, the prototype that Kate Moss ran with. Washington Post, "Jane Birkin is back with a new album, but her presence is everlasting," 19 Mar. 2021 Players also will wear a SafeTag, devices about the size of a domino and weighing less than one ounce that will assist in contact tracing. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Expect the unexpected as most unpredictable NCAA Tournament opens against backdrop of pandemic," 14 Mar. 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.

See More

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)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about domino

Time Traveler for domino

Time Traveler

The first known use of domino was circa 1694

See more words from the same year

Statistics for domino

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Domino.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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 )

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on domino

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


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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