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domino theory

1. The political theory that, if one country or area adopts communism, then the surrounding ones will as well. The domino theory was a major concern as the Soviet Union expanded its power after World War II.
2. By extension, the idea that an event in one country will result in similar events in the surrounding countries. The string of revolutions that occurred in neighboring countries during the Arab Spring was a great example of domino theory in action.
See also: domino, theory

domino effect

A phenomenon in which an initial event causes a series of other related events to occur, much like the sequence seen in toppling dominos; a chain reaction. The convenience store's decision to stop selling tobacco products caused a domino effect throughout the industry, leading other chains to quickly follow suit. When I took one book out of the bookcase, it caused a domino effect, causing all of the others to topple over.
See also: domino, effect

a domino effect

COMMON A domino effect is a situation where one event causes a series of similar events. The accident created a domino effect, causing about 10 other bikes to crash and injuring 14 other people. Unused houses deteriorate rapidly, affecting the value of nearby homes; in a domino effect, the entire neighborhood can easily fall victim. Note: This expression was first used in the 1950s by an American political commentator to describe what some people thought would happen if one country in a region became Communist: they believed that the other countries in that area would also `fall' to the Communists. The image is of a row of upright dominoes (= small, rectangular games pieces with different numbers of dots on them); if one falls, it knocks the next one over and so on, until all of them have fallen over.
See also: domino, effect

fall like dominoes

If things fall like dominoes, they are damaged, destroyed or defeated quickly, one after the other. Since he came into the sport, the records have fallen like dominoes. Cities fell like dominoes to the rebels. Note: Other verbs, such as collapse or topple are sometimes used instead of fall. Inflation got out of control and banks started collapsing like dominoes.
See also: domino, fall, like


n. a one-hundred-dollar bill. How many dominos is that going to cost?