A domino is a small flat block of rigid material used as a gaming object. They are referred to as bones, pieces, men, tiles or cards and may be made from wood, bone, plastic or even ceramic clay.
Dominos are often grouped into sets, called a deck or set. A typical domino set includes 28 pieces. The pieces are usually twice as long as they are wide and feature a line in the middle to divide them visually into two squares. Each piece has a number of pips (spots) that represent the value of its adjacent side. The numbers range from six to none or blank, and the sum of the pips is known as the rank or weight of the tile.
They are a popular game with children and adults alike. Whether they are lined up in long rows and knocked down or played individually, dominoes can be fun and challenging.
One of the most interesting aspects of dominoes is the cascading effect that sets them into motion when they are stacked edge to edge. This cascading movement creates a kind of momentum that can lead to the knocking over of a much larger domino.
There are many different kinds of dominoes, and their varying designs can be influenced by different cultures. Chinese dominoes are usually made from bamboo, while European dominoes may be made from bone or a hard, heavy wood such as ebony. Some are even made from frosted glass or crystal.
The origin of the word domino is obscure, but it does refer to a long hooded cloak or cape worn by a priest at a masquerade. It appears that this idea was absorbed into the word and is the same in both English and French, although the cloak is often pictured as being black while the playing piece is usually white.
While the earliest domino sets were made of wood, they are now usually made from polymer materials and are more durable and less expensive to manufacture. These can be purchased from most large retailers and are available in sets of various sizes, which can range from a few to hundreds of pieces.
Some sets feature a design that is reminiscent of Chinese characters, such as the traditional Chinese character for “peace” or the character for “silver.” These designs are more difficult to read than others and are often found only in specialized domino sets.
The game of dominoes first appeared in Italy and France, and was brought to England by French prisoners during the 18th century. The game was then spread to other areas, and has been a popular form of entertainment ever since.
They are commonly used for positional games in which each player places a domino edge to edge against another. The objective of these games is to match two tiles such that the total number of pips on both sides of each tile is the same or greater than any other.