Domino, as a word and as a game, is fun for kids and adults alike. Whether they’re playing a classic draw game or a more complicated variant, players set domino tiles one edge at a time to create chains that sweep across the floor. When a domino is knocked over, the rest of the tiles fall in a cascade. This chain reaction can be exciting to watch and even more fun to play.
The word domino is a variation of the English language’s Latin word dominium, meaning “flip.” Dominoes are small rectangular wood or plastic blocks that bear an identity on one side and are blank or marked with dots resembling those on dice. A complete set of dominoes consists of 28 such pieces. When a person flips the first domino, it sets off a chain reaction that continues until all of them have fallen. The idiom domino effect describes any situation in which one event can trigger a sequence of events that spreads from one place to another like a series of falling dominoes.
Dominoes have been around for centuries. The exact origin of the game remains unclear, but it appears to be related to a French card game called patiency and also to a long hooded cloak worn together with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade. Earlier, the word domino denoted a cape worn by a priest over his surplice.
When kids play a game of domino, they start with the first tile and then take turns placing others adjacent to it in a line or square. Each player must place a tile of the same value as the last on that end of the string. If a player has no matching tiles in the hand, they must take another tile from the boneyard and add it to the chain at the end of the string. Adding new tiles to an existing domino chain changes the shape of that end of the chain and creates snake-line shapes, depending on how many adjacent tiles are available.
Professional domino artist Lily Hevesh has created mind-blowing installations involving hundreds of thousands of dominoes. Her largest designs may take several nail-biting minutes to complete, but she says one physical phenomenon is key: gravity. As a domino falls, it’s pulled toward Earth by gravity, which then pushes down on the next domino until all of them have fallen.
In business, the Domino Effect is a term used by consultants to describe the effects that one positive change can have on other areas of a company. For example, if one employee makes a habit of making his or her bed in the morning, that behavior can spread to other employees and the company as a whole.
When an individual starts a healthy diet, it can affect other members of the family. This can lead to a domino effect in schools and workplaces, where a single initiative by one student or employee can encourage others to make healthy choices.