What is Domino?

Domino (, also domno) is a small, rectangular block of wood or other material, typically thumb-sized, with one face bearing from six to twenty numbered dots or “pips.” A domino set contains 28 such pieces.

The word domino is sometimes used as a verb, meaning to put in place or establish something, or to move over or away from someone. It can also refer to a series of events that occur in order or according to a certain rule, such as a domino effect.

The origin of the word and the game is obscure, but they both appeared in France shortly after 1750. The word may be related to a similar Latin term, dominus, which means “ruler” or “leader,” and was used to describe a hooded cloak with a mask worn at masquerades. The earliest sense of the word, however, was as a black piece that contrasted with a white surplice worn by priests.

In a game of domino, each player takes turns placing dominoes on a table or another surface. A domino can be a single tile or an entire line, arranged in straight or curved lines or angular patterns. Each domino has a number of pips on its ends, which indicates its value and determines how it is placed on the layout.

When a domino is struck, it falls over and pushes the next domino in the line until all have fallen. The process relies on the fact that each domino has potential energy, a tendency to resist motion, until it is hit and then converted to kinetic energy, which transmits to the next domino and causes it to fall.

Dominos can be made from a wide variety of materials, including bone, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother-of-pearl), ivory and dark hardwoods such as ebony. In addition, sets have been constructed using a variety of polymer resins; ceramic clay; metals, including brass and pewter; and frosted glass or crystal. The more expensive sets, traditionally called European-style, are made from natural materials and have a distinctive look.

Like a domino, a story requires well-placed scenes that advance the plot or bring the hero closer to or farther from a goal. Whether you’re a pantser who doesn’t create outlines before writing or a plotter who plans every scene ahead of time, keeping in mind the domino image can help you ensure that your scenes don’t fall short in impact or timing.

A single tile can be added to a domino layout only if it is adjacent to an open end. Usually, a double domino straddles two such ends, with the longer side of the tile extending across each of the adjacent spaces. The rules of some games allow additional tiles to be placed on either side of a double. When this happens, the long side of the tile becomes a new open end that can be connected to other dominoes. The short side is then closed, preventing further dominoes from being placed on it.