Dominoes are black, rectangular game pieces marked with white dots. They are popular for playing games such as board games and card games.

They have been around since the mid-18th century. They are most commonly used for positional games, where a domino is placed edge to edge against another domino in such a way that the adjacent faces are either identical (e.g., a 5-3 set) or form some specified total, like a 4-3 or 6-5.

The origin of the word domino is unclear, but it may have something to do with a long hooded cloak worn by a priest during carnival season or at a masquerade party. In English, the word first appeared in 1750, and it was probably related to a black cloak that contrasted with the white surplice worn by the priest.

When people hear the word domino, they might think of a piece of furniture, but it has also been connected with the theory of containment, which argues that one action can lead to a chain reaction, such as an invasion or an economic crash. McGeorge Bundy argued that the United States used domino theory during the Cold War to fashion deep, bilateral alliances with Asian countries such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea in order to contain communism.

Aside from their history, dominoes are also fun to play with and make a great decoration in the home or office. They are a common gift for children and can be found in many different sizes and shapes.

They can be arranged in grids or used to create 3-D structures such as domino walls and domino towers. When they fall, they form patterns or pictures that are both beautiful and impressive.

In some cases, people even build their own sets of dominoes to play with. They can be purchased online, in a store, or at a craft fair.

Some sets of dominoes are printed with numbers that indicate the number of pips on each domino. Others are shaped like tiles or spinners.

Dominoes can be used in a variety of games, including chess, checkers and poker. They are often made of wood or a plastic material.

They have also been adapted for use in many other types of games, such as Chinese dominoes. These are not numbered or otherwise labeled, but they are similar to Western dominoes in that they are also divided by a line or ridge into two squares with identifying markings on each side.

In the most basic game of dominoes, players choose seven dominoes and place them face down in a pile called a stock or boneyard. They then try to play their own domino by placing it next to a previously played domino in such a way that the end of the new domino matches the number of pips on the previous one.

If the first domino is knocked down, it will knock down all of the other dominoes. This is known as the domino effect, and it can be applied to your own life in a similar way.