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[fan-tan] /ˈfænˌtæn/
Also, fan tan. Also called parliament, sevens. Cards. a game in which the players play their sevens and other cards forming sequences in the same suits as their sevens, the winner being the player who first runs out of cards.
a Chinese gambling game in which a pile of coins, counters, or objects is placed under a bowl and bets are made on what the remainder will be after they have been counted off in fours.
Origin of fan-tan
1875-80; < Chinese fān tān literally, repeated divisions, or < cognate dial. forms Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fan-tan
Historical Examples
  • There, from a small quadrangular gallery, he could look down on the “well” of the fan-tan lay out below.

    The Shadow Arthur Stringer
  • There, from a small quadrangular gallery, he could look down on the "well" of the fan-tan lay out below.

    Never-Fail Blake Arthur Stringer
  • fan-tan was in progress at one of the tables, the four players being apparently the only strictly sober people in the room.

    Tales of Chinatown Sax Rohmer
  • The Malays at fan-tan by the gleam of the slush-light under the awning grew silent.

    Cursed George Allan England
  • I could not manage to make out exactly from the description what the game they play is like, but it was not fan-tan.

    A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam' Annie Allnut Brassey
  • Here cards are generally used instead of dice to separate the players from their money, fan-tan being the favorite game.

    Where the Strange Trails Go Down E. Alexander Powell
  • Games of fan-tan and pie-gow are constantly in operation; and the police either tolerate or are powerless to stop them.

    Byways Around San Francisco Bay William E. Hutchinson
  • It's all a game of bluff, as I told you years ago in that fan-tan shop in Shanghai.

    People of Position Stanley Portal Hyatt
British Dictionary definitions for fan-tan


a Chinese gambling game in which a random number of counters are placed under a bowl and wagers laid on how many will remain after they have been divided by four
a card game played in sequence, the winner being the first to use up all his or her cards
Word Origin
C19: from Chinese (Cantonese) fan t'an repeated divisions, from fan times + t'an division
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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