A domino is a small flat rectangular block with one or more sides bearing from one to six pips, dots, or symbols. The word domino comes from the Latin for “flip,” and it is used as the foundation of a variety of games of chance or skill. The most common domino sets have 28 tiles. Some players prefer to play with larger sets. Known by many names, including bones, pieces, men, cards, and tiles, dominoes are fun for children and adults to stack on end in long lines. When a domino is played, it causes the next tile in line to tip over, and the process continues until all the pieces have fallen. Some people even use dominoes to create elaborate designs such as curved lines and grids that form pictures when they fall.
Domino is also used to describe a strategy in business or sports where an initial success leads to a chain reaction that increases the impact of the original effort. This type of momentum is called the domino effect and can be used to improve productivity or to reach a goal more quickly. A good example is a person who makes a goal to make their bed every day, which may seem trivial until that person manages to do it four days in a row. This accomplishment can inspire that person to tackle other tasks more easily the next time.
The term domino was first recorded in English and French around 1750. The word and game later spread to Spain, where it became a popular pastime. It has also been an important element in many social events, such as the Spanish Inquisition.
In a domino game, each player must place one tile on the table in turn and then wait for an opposing player to lay down a matching domino. The other player can then play a tile that matches either the number or the color of the previous domino. The game can be played by a single person or between two teams.
When a player cannot match the color or number of an existing domino, they must draw from the boneyard (the pile of spare dominoes) to find another matching piece. The resulting chain of tiles is called a layout. There are several types of layout games, but the most common are blocking and scoring games.
While some people are skilled at laying out dominoes in complex patterns, others are better at creating domino art. This can include straight lines, curved lines, grids that form pictures when they fall, or stacked walls and pyramids. In some cases, domino artists have even created structures that resemble cities and states.
When a domino is set up on the table, it must be aligned with the other pieces so that its matching ends are touching. If a matching end is not touching, the player must then choose another domino from the boneyard and place it perpendicular to the double-ending, or cross-way, of the domino being played. This method ensures that the chain is positioned correctly to continue building in length.