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

And with that, the first dominoes began to fall in the new bowl cycle. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Holiday Bowl, Mountain West face changes after new tie-ins announced," 4 June 2019 The settlement is the latest domino to fall in the reckoning over whether CBS and other television networks did enough to stop senior executives and broadcast personalities from harassing younger employees. Nathaniel Popper, The Seattle Times, "CBS settles with women who said Rose harassed them," 11 Dec. 2018 The next domino and the biggest is DeMarcus Cousins. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Should Heat offseason goal be to thin the rotation?," 29 June 2018 If the Hawks are serious about bringing on Young, moving Schröder feels like a critical domino that ought to fall first. Jeremy Woo,, "NBA Draft Dispatch: Latest Trade Rumors and Intel on Luka Doncic, the Hawks and More," 20 June 2018 The form says he was arrested in 2016 for smoking, playing cards, playing dominoes and smoking a hookah, as well as either watching or possessing pornographic videos and songs. Rukmini Callimachi, New York Times, "The Case of the Purloined Poultry: How ISIS Prosecuted Petty Crime," 1 July 2018 As the 2018 House results continue to roll in, with long-time Republican seats in suburban and suburban-rural California falling like dominoes, the damage Trump is doing is becoming impossible to deny. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "A MAGA outlet just published a piece blaming Trump for the GOP midterm loss," 15 Nov. 2018 For the most part, the high-performance parts are kicking back and playing dominoes. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15: Which should you buy?," 11 Sep. 2018 So, yes, the road to cap space a year from now could be as simple as those three dominoes falling. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Can Heat get Whiteside, Dragic to opt out in 2019?," 2 May 2018

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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Statistics for domino

Last Updated

9 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for domino

The first known use of domino was circa 1694

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on domino

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with domino

Spanish Central: Translation of domino

Nglish: Translation of domino for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of domino for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about domino

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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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