Domino effect

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Domino effect is an American idiom which has its roots in the Cold War. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the meaning of the term domino effect, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Domino effect describes a situation in which one event triggers another similar event and then another, until there is a cascade of events that occur, all because of the first, precipitating event. The image is that of a line of dominos lined up, standing on end. Knocking over the first domino causes it to knock over the second domino, and so on. The term domino effect stems from a political idea formed by an American journalist named Joseph Alsop which he called the falling domino theory. This idea states that once Communism is allowed to take over a country, other small countries around it are more likely to become Communist. Eisenhower, president at the time that Alsop was writing his political column, was asked about America’s policy in Indochina, and he cited the falling domino principle. Before long, reporters referred to this idea as the domino effect. Today, the idiom domino effect is used to describe any situation in which one small trigger may start a larger cascade of events, not just a political situation.


The logic doesn’t quite add up, but there would be a massive domino effect around the soccer world should he actually go. (Sports Illustrated)

Taipei must guard against a possible “domino effect” on the diplomatic front as China steps up its suppression of Taiwan internationally, analysts said on Tuesday. (The China Post)

“One of the issues I have is the domino effect that this can create in our neighborhood, which is highly residential,” said Don Couture, Janet’s husband. (The News & Observer)

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