Glossary of Domino Terms

Ace
The end of a tile with one pip.
Arm
A row of dominoes set in a straight line in the layout of a matching or scoring game.
Bid
In bidding games, after all players have drawn their hand from the deck but before playing begins, each player makes a bid or passes. A bid is the number of points a player anticipates he can make for that hand.
Bidder
In bidding games, the player who wins the bid by making the highest bid. This earns him the opportunity of naming trumps and also of making the first play of the hand.
Bidding Games
Games in which the players predict the number of points they can make for each hand.
Block

  1. In a matching or scoring game, the process of playing a domino which cannot be followed in suit by your opponent.
  2. Domino pieces are sometimes called blocks.
  3. Another name for The Block Game.

Blocked Game
In a matching or scoring game, if

  1. no player is able to make a play;
  2. draw from the boneyard; and,
  3. all players are still holding tiles in their hand, the game is said to be "blocked," at which time the game is over and is said to have "ended in block."

Blocking Games
Games in which scoring is done only at the end of each hand and not after individual plays are made. Play is aimed at blocking your opponent and being the first player to play all the tiles in his hand.
Count Dominoes

  1. In bidding games, the tiles that have pips which total 5 or a multiple of 5. If playing with one set of Double-6 tiles, for example, the count dominoes would include the 5-5 and 6-4 (each worth 10 points) and the 5-0, 3-2, and 4-1 (each worth 5 points).
  2. In scoring games, tiles played so that the sum of the pips on the exposed ends of the layout total 5 or a multiple of 5.

Cutthroat

  1. Any domino game in which each player plays independently, for himself, without a partner.
  2. A 3-handed game or any game with 4 or more players in which each player plays for himself, without a partner.
  3. The name of a 4-handed, Texas-style game of dominoes, in which each player plays for himself, without a partner.

Deuce
The end of a tile with two pips.
Domino
1. One of the pieces, or tiles, in a set of dominoes.
2. In matching and scoring games, to be the first player to play the last tile in his hand, and therefore, win that hand. Also called "go out."
Dominoed
When a person is the first to play the last tile in his hand, he is said to have "dominoed."
Dominoer
The person playing the last remaining domino in his hand.
Go Out
When a player is the first to play the last tile in his hand in a matching or scoring game. Also called "domino."
Hand

  1. Refers to each individual round played between shuffles of the dominoes.
  2. The dominoes held by a player during a round of play.

Head Up
A game of dominoes played by only two players.
Leader

  1. The player who plays first the first tile.
  2. In a matching or scoring game, a double tile played when the player has no matching dominoes in his hand.

Round Games

  1. "Party games" for a large group of people.
  2. Games in which each player plays for himself.

Scoring Games
Games in which scores are made during play and at the end of the hand.
Set

  1. In a bidding game, if a player cannot make his bid, he is said to be "set." 
  2. In matching and scoring games, the first tile played.

Shuffle
To mix up the dominoes while all pieces are turned face down. Done at the beginning of the game and the start of each "hand" or round.
Spinner

  1. A double in the layout which may played on both sides and both ends. Matching and scoring games each have a rule about spinners: a) There are no spinners; b) Only the first double played is a spinner; or, c) All doubles are spinners.
  2. In games where only the first double played is a spinner, "spinner" refers to the first double played.

Suit(s)
Dominoes having the same number of pips on one end. For example: The 0-6, 1-6, 2-6, etc., are all from the 6-suit.
Trey
The end of a tile with three pips.
Trick
A term used in bidding games. In the game of 42, for example, each of the four players plays 1 tile per trick. The trick is won by the player who played the winning tile of the 4 tiles played. There are 7 tricks in a hand of 42.
Trumps

  1. In bidding games, the winning bidder earns the opportunity to name trumps for that hand. The word "trump" comes from the word "triumph." A domino from the trump suit automatically "triumps" over other dominoes played.
  2. Doubles are sometimes referred to as "trumps."

Widow or Widows
The tile, or tiles, left after each player draws their hands from the deck at the beginning of a hand. Also called "the boneyard;" however, the term "the boneyard" is typically used in matching and scoring games and usually refers to tiles that are purposely not drawn at the beginning of the game, so that players can draw from the boneyard during the game when they do not hold a playable tile in their hand. The term "widow(s)" is typically used in bidding games and usually refers to the tile or tiles left after each player draws their hands from the deck at the beginning of the hand and there are "widow(s)" because the number of tiles can not be divided equally among the number players.

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