Dominoes are a type of small rectangular blocks that can be stacked on end in long lines. When one domino is tipped over, it triggers the next domino in line to tip over, and so on, creating a chain reaction. Dominoes are often used as toys and can be made to create intricate designs. They can also be set up to challenge builders to create the most complicated domino effect or reaction before an audience.
Dominos are normally constructed from wood, but can also be made of other natural materials like stone (eg marble, granite or soapstone), metals and ceramic clay. Sets have traditionally been produced in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, with different colors and finishes. Modern sets may feature plastic or polymer dominoes in a range of colors and designs.
The word “domino” was first used in English around 1750, though it appears in French at an earlier date. It is not known for sure what the name means, but it is speculated that the word relates to the fact that dominoes have ebony blacks and ivory faces—like the hooded cape worn by a priest over his white surplice. It is also possible that the name derives from the Italian word for a long flattened piece of bread or dough.
A domino is a flat, thumbsized, rectangular block, divided into two parts, each bearing from one to six pips or dots: 28 such pieces form a complete domino set. Unlike the larger and more colorful plastic dominoes, these smaller ones are typically black or white with the pips inlaid or painted on them. Traditionally, a domino was played by matching the ends of pieces, laying them down in straight or angular lines, and then scoring points by establishing combinations of matching pairs of tiles. Dominoes can also be used to play games of chance, such as solitaire or trick-taking; many are adaptations of card games and were once popular in regions where religious proscriptions forbid playing cards.
In more recent times, dominoes have become the subject of artistic and scientific research. Dominoes are a favorite laboratory tool for measuring the force of gravity, and researchers have created models that show how dominoes can be arranged to make patterns of concentric circles or lines. They have also been used in art and design projects to explore concepts such as proportion and balance.
As a writer, I am fascinated by the idea that just as dominoes can be arranged to create beautiful, complex structures, they can also be used to describe the way that events in our lives can cascade into new behaviors and beliefs. I find this concept of the domino effect to be incredibly useful in my work as a novelist, because it reminds me that plot isn’t necessarily about action but rather reaction. A well-thought-out story can be as intriguing as a carefully crafted domino rally, even if the reader knows exactly how it will end.