Dominoes Glossary

When learning a new game you usually come across various terms, glossary, expressions and phrases that are unfamiliar to you. Dominoes is a game that has its own unique jargon, which has developed since the game was first introduced. The terms and slang below appear commonly in domino rules and dominoes strategy.

Nicknames for Doubles

0-0: Bingo, Saturday night.
1-1: Snake Eyes, Double Aces.
2-2: Double Deuces.
2-3: Banker’s Set.
3-3: Spanish Curse, Poison Ivy.
5-5: Gold Nuggets.
6-6: Jaws, Boxcars, Centipede, Hairy Belly.
9-9: Dead Man’s Box (unlike Dead Man’s Chest which is the 2nd Pirates of the Caribbean movie), which is used in Cuban Dominoes.



The end of a tile with one dot.


The back of the tile is the part that doesn’t have the dots or the bar line. Sometimes the back contains a design, a brand or a stamp. All the tiles in the boneyard are turned so that their backs are shown. This is so no player knows what the tiles’ values are.

Bar – This is the center line that divides the face of the tile into 2 halves. Each half either blank or contains a number.

Blank – A blank is the end of a domino tile that has no dots (or pips). It’s also called a ‘white’ or a ‘zero’.

Block or Blocked game – This is a situation in which no player is able to play, make a move, or draw a tile from the boneyard. It’s also called a ‘jam’.

Bone – A nickname for tiles, since they were originally made from ivory or actual bones. Bones are also called tiles, men, stones, or domino.

Boneyard – This is the collection of overturned and randomized tiles from which players draw their tiles. Every player can draw any tile he wants from the boneyard, and must take one at a time.

Chicken Foot – The term chicken foot comes from Southwestern USA. This is a spinner in which the tiles are arranged to resemble chicken’s toes away from the center of play. The reckoning behind this formation is to avoid long lines of tiles that can run into each other if the spinner arms were played at right angles.

Cut (a suit) – This means to play all of a certain suit apart from the double. The target of a cut is to prevent the opponent that holds the double from domino.

Dancing Girls – This is a Texan nickname for the seven tiles of the fives suit in Fives games.

Deck – A set of domino tiles.

Deuce – This is the end of a domino with two dots (pips).

Domino – This means a tile or bone used in the game of dominoes and also means to play all the tiles in one’s hand, which ends a hand or a game.

Dominoes – This can refer to the tiles that are used in the game and also to the game itself.  Also spelled “Dominoes”, this is the name of the game. Contrary to popular usage, it is not the name of the tiles. ‘Dominos’ is a common misspelling of ‘dominoes’.

Door – The last tile in a suit that wasn’t yet played. Playing that tile closes the door.

Dot – Each tile has dots on its face. Dots range from 0 to 6, and in some sets reach 18. It’s also called a ‘pip’ or a ‘spot’.

Double – A double is a domino tile with the same number of dots on each half. It’s also called a ‘doublet’. Double (n) is a domino set of [(n2+ 3n + 2)/ 2] tiles that have all the combinations of zero to (n) dots on them. These sets are mostly built from double-six, double-nine, or double-twelve domino sets.

Down – The first tile played in any round. The down is also called the ‘lead’ or ‘set’.

Draw – A draw means that a player takes a tile from the boneyard and puts it in his hand.

End – A domino tile has two ends that are divided by the bar line. Each end has a number ranging from 0 to 6, 9, or 12. When joining two domino tiles, their ends usually touch each other. Any one of the tile’s two halves can be called an end.

Exposed tile – This is a tile that was erroneously shown during the game.

Face – The face is the visible part of the tile containing the bar and the dots.

Game – A game is a collection of hands and plays in which players play to get a winning score.

Hand – This is a set of domino tiles that belong to every player. The domino tiles are usually placed on the table so that no other player can see them.

High End – This is the tile which one of its halves has the largest number of dots (pips). The high end is also called the ‘heavy end’.

Jam – This is a move that plays the last tile in a suit, leaving that suit exposed on all ends of the table, thus blocking the game.

Low End – This is the tile which one of its halves has the smallest number of dots (pips). The low end is also called the ‘light end’.

Match – A match is made up of games that players need in order to win. Each game is made up of hands, and each hand is made up of rounds. Rounds are made up of plays.

Muck – This means cheating in domino by hiding or stealing tiles. A ‘muck’ is term used in poker to throw a player’s cards away.

Open End – This is the tile end that is not connected to any other tile. Subsequent tiles can only be played on an open end.

Pip – A pip is the dot, or spot, that appears on the face of the domino tile.

Renege – This is a situation where one of the players doesn’t play with a playable tile, while being required to play with that tile according to the rules of the game.

Round – Each round comprises of a number of plays, in which players place tiles on the table, draw from the boneyard, or take other actions during their turn. Hands comprise of a number of rounds.

Row – Tiles placed side to side on the table make up a row. Contrary to trains, which are end to end.

Set – Placing a tile face-up on the table. It is also playing the first tile in the game.

Shuffle – Before starting the game, all domino tiles are turned facedown and shuffled in order to randomize their order. This way no player knows which tile is which.

Side – A side is the 3rd part of the tile along with the face and the bottom. Tiles can be played by connecting their ends or their sides.

Snake Eyes – This is the 1-1 tile. It is based on the game of Craps, where two 6-sided dice are played. In Craps, if both dice show 1 it is called ‘Snake Eyes’.

Spinner – A sinner is the first double tile that is played during the game. In many domino games, tiles can be played off all four edges of the spinner – ends along with sides.

Spot – A spot is also called a dot, or a pip. Spots range from 0 to 6, 12, or 18. bar

Square – A square means causing both ends of a train to show the same suit.

Suit – A collection of tiles with the same number of spots on one or two ends. Each suit comes on seven tiles. For example, the fives suit consists of 5-0, 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, 5-5, and 5-6.

Tableau –
a) The arrangement of face up tiles in the middle of the game upon which plays in the game are made. Also called a “layout” or simply “the table”.
b) The arrangement of tiles, some face up and some face down, in solitaire game upon which plays in the game are made.

Tableau – Also called the ‘table’ or layout, the tableau is the total arrangement or tiles (face up and face down) on which plays are made.

Tile – A tile, bone or domino (it is sometimes considered a mistake to call a tile ‘domino) is the game piece in the game of dominoes.

Trey – This is the end of a domino with three dots (pips).

Train – A row of tiles placed face up and connected end to end on the table. Also called a ‘row’.

Woodpile – A pile of tiles from which each player draws his hand. Also called a boneyard.