Dominoes are small, rectangular blocks used as gaming pieces that can be stacked on end in long lines. When the first domino in a line is tipped over, it triggers a chain reaction that causes the next domino to tip, and so on until all of the dominoes have fallen. This principle is what gives rise to the term domino effect, which describes a small action that leads to much larger–and often more catastrophic–consequences. A skilled domino artist can create amazing displays with this simple mechanism.

The most popular way to play domino is with a set of twenty-four double-six-sided tiles with one or more dots on each edge. Each player places a domino on the table with its matching side facing up, or face-down, against another tile placed perpendicular to it. The result is a snake-like chain with all of its matching edges touching each other, with the first domino forming a cross over the second tile and so on. Players win by being the first to reach the end of their chain or a maximum number of points.

Many different games can be played with dominoes, and new ones are constantly being developed. A few examples include:

Dominoes can also be used to build mathematical models of the structure and dynamics of materials. In some cases, these models can provide insight into the behavior of materials under varying conditions and even predict the results of certain actions.

These models are used in a wide variety of fields, from science and engineering to economics and finance. For example, a model of the electrical conduction system in your body can be used to explain how nerve impulses are transmitted along nerve cells. It can help researchers understand how nerve impulses cause muscle movement and the development of diseases such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

The game of domino can also be used to teach children math and strategy. It can also be a social activity, helping children develop teamwork skills as they play together. For example, they learn how to take turns and negotiate with others. In addition, the game can help children practice counting and sequencing.

Some people enjoy collecting domino sets. These sets can be made from various materials, including ivory, silver lip ocean pearl oyster shell (mother of pearl), and ebony. European-style dominoes usually have a top layer of mother-of-pearl or ivory and a lower layer of ebony, with contrasting black or white pips inlaid or painted on each side. Other sets are made from natural materials, such as marble and granite; other types of woods, such as ash, oak, and redwood; metals; ceramic clay; or other objects, such as crystal or glass.

The word domino has an ambiguous origin. In the English language, it originally denoted a long hooded cloak worn with a mask during carnival season or at a masquerade. It is possible that the ebony blacks of domino pieces reminded some people of the black hood of a priest over his white surplice.