mah jongg


[mah-jawng, -jong, -zhawng, -zhong]
a game of Chinese origin usually played by four persons with 144 dominolike pieces or tiles marked in suits, counters, and dice, the object being to build a winning combination of pieces.
verb (used without object)
to win a game of mah-jongg.
Also, mah-jong.

1920–25; < dialectal Chinese; compare Guangdong dial. màh-jéuk, Chinese máquè literally, sparrow (depicted on the first tile of a set), equivalent to hemp + què bird Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Word Origin & History

1922, from dial. Chinese (Shanghai) ma chiang, name of the game, lit. "sparrows," from ma "hemp" + chaing "little birds." The game so called from the design of the pieces. It had a vogue in Europe in the 1920s and for a time threatened to supplant bridge in popularity.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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