mah-jongg


mah-jongg
/mah"jawng", -jong", -zhawng", -zhong"/, n.
1. 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.
v.i.
2. to win a game of mah-jongg.
Also, mah-jong.
[1920-25; < dial. Chin; cf. Guangdong dial. màh-jéuk, Chin máquè lit., sparrow (depicted on the first tile of a set), equiv. to hemp + què bird]

* * *

Game of Chinese origin usually played by four persons with 144 domino-like tiles that are drawn and discarded until one player secures a winning hand.

The object of play is similar to that of the rummy card games. It is probably of 19th-century origin. The name was coined by J. P. Babcock, who introduced the game to the West after World War I. The mah-jongg set includes a pair of dice, a quantity of tokens or chips used for scorekeeping, and a rack for keeping tiles upright and keeping their faces hidden from other players.

* * *

game
      game of Chinese origin, played with tiles, or pais, that are similar in physical description to those used in dominoes but engraved with Chinese symbols and characters and divided into suits and honours. A fad in England, the United States, and Australia in the mid-1920s, the game was revived in the United States after 1935 but never regained its initial popularity. In the United States the official governing body is the National Mah Jongg League, founded in 1937.

      The game is probably of 19th-century origin. Before World War I each Chinese province had its own style of play and dialect name for it. The name, signifying “sparrow” (maque), has been variously transliterated as ma tsiang, ma chiang, ma cheuk, and ma ch'iau. The sparrow or a mythical “bird of 100 intelligences” appears on one of the tiles. The name mah-jongg was coined and copyrighted by Joseph P. Babcock, an American resident of Shanghai, who is credited with introducing mah-jongg to the West after World War I. In order to promote the game in the West, he wrote a modified set of rules, gave English titles to the tiles, and added index letters and numerals familiar to Western card players. The game as described hereafter is prevalent in the United States; other forms of the game may be found in other Western countries.

      Modern mah-jongg sets are usually made of plastic instead of bone or ivory. A full set contains 136 or 144 tiles, depending on whether the flowers or seasons are used. Some sets include 20 flowers. The pieces are named and numbered as follows:

      The bamboos are often called sticks or bams, the circles are called dots, and the characters are cracks or craks. The mah-jongg set also includes a pair of dice, a quantity of tokens or chips used for scorekeeping, and a rack used to keep the tiles upright and to keep their faces hidden from other players.

      The game is usually played by four individuals. The object of play, similar to that of the rummy card games, is to obtain sets of tiles. There are three kinds of sets: chow, a run or sequence of three of the same suit in numerical order; pung, a sequence of three tiles of the same suit and rank, such as three dragons of the same colour or three identical winds; and kong, a pung plus the fourth matching tile. The winner is the first player to hold a complete hand—i.e., four sets and a pair of like tiles (a total of 14 tiles). The strategy of mah-jongg, like that of rummy, is both offensive and defensive: to complete a winning hand as quickly as possible, to block other players by not discarding tiles useful to them, and to build a high-scoring hand.

      Players begin by drawing 13 tiles; “east wind” (who collects or pays double according to whether he or another player wins) takes 14 and begins play by discarding one. Thereafter, the other players in counterclockwise rotation each draw one tile, which may be the last discarded tile or a loose tile from the “wall” (comparable to stock in rummy). Any player may claim the previous discard to complete a set. (If two or more players claim the same discard, there is a detailed order of precedence.) Losing players settle with the winner and with each other according to an accepted schedule of values for the sets or combinations of sets. A concealed set held in the hand scores differently from an exposed set on the table. Under certain rules, exceptional hands—picturesquely named “the three scholars,” “four small blessings,” and so on—are scored differently.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • mah-jongg — ⇒MAH JONG(G), (MAH JONG, MAH JONGG)subst. masc. Jeu de combinaisons, d origine chinoise, apparenté aux dominos, qui se joue à trois ou à cinq. Les marins des navires américains en escale l adoptèrent [en Chine du Sud] (...) et l importèrent aux… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Mah-Jongg — 〈[ dʒɔ̣ŋ] n. 15〉 chinesisches Gesellschaftsspiel mit verschieden gemusterten Steinen, die reihum gezogen u. abgegeben werden, bis ein Spieler ein zusammenpassendes Bild (Dreier od. Viererreihen u. ein Paar) beisammen hat * * * Mah Jọngg®   [ma… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Mah-Jongg — Ma Jongg [... dʒɔŋ] das; s, s <aus gleichbed. engl. mah jong(g), anglisiert aus chin. (Dialekt von Schanghai) ma tsiang »Spatzenspiel«> urspr. chines. Gesellschaftsspiel mit Spielsteinen od. karten, aus denen bestimmte Bilder zusammengeste …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • Mah-Jongg — 〈 [ dʒɔ̣ŋ] n.; Gen.: ; Pl.: unz.〉 chines. Gesellschaftsspiel mit verschieden gemusterten Steinen, die reihum gezogen u. abgegeben werden, bis ein Spieler ein zusammenpassendes Bild (vier Dreier od. Viererreihen u. ein Paar) beisammen hat …   Lexikalische Deutsches Wörterbuch

  • mah-jongg — 1922, from dialectal 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 and the U.S. in the 1920s and for a time threatened …   Etymology dictionary

  • mah-jongg — or mahjong [mä′jôŋ′, mä′jäŋ′, mä′zhôŋ′, mä′zhäŋ′] n. [< dial. form of Chin ma ch iao, lit., house sparrow, a figure on one of the tiles] a game of Chinese origin played with 136 or 144 pieces called tiles: the object is to accumulate winning… …   English World dictionary

  • Mah-Jongg — Spielmaterial für Mah Jongg Mah Jongg wird in China überall gespielt Mah Jongg, auch Mahjongg oder Mahjong (chines …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mah Jongg — Spielmaterial für Mah Jongg Mah Jongg, auch Mahjongg oder Mahjong (chin. 麻將, Májiàng, chin. 麻雀, kant. màh jeuk (Cantonese Yale), IPA (kant.) maː21.tsœːk33), dt. etwa: Sperlingsspiel, ist ein altes chinesisches Spiel für vier Personen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mah-Jongg — mahjong mahjong, Mah Jongg Mah Jongg . A Chinese game played by 4 people with 144 tiles. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mah-jongg — or mahjong noun Etymology: from Mah Jongg, a trademark Date: 1920 a game of Chinese origin usually played by four persons with 144 tiles that are drawn and discarded until one player secures a winning hand …   New Collegiate Dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.