domino effect


      • chain reaction
        Describing the phenomenon where one event causes a series of similar events to happen

      • spreading
        Referring to the rapid spread or multiplication of something, such as an idea or behavior, from one person or group to another

    Examples of domino effect

    • The economic downturn caused a domino effect on the local community as several small businesses were forced to close due to decreased customer traffic.

      This idiom is used to describe a chain reaction, where one event triggers a series of subsequent events. In this example, the economic downturn can be thought of as the falling of the first domino, which led to the closing of several small businesses, similar to how falling dominoes can trigger other dominoes to fall.

    • The actor's sudden departure from the production set off a domino effect, as the entire cast and crew had to adjust their schedules to accommodate the new lead.

      This idiom is also used to describe the unintended consequences of an action. In this example, the actor's departure was not initially planned, but it led to significant changes in the production, such as rescheduling and potentially additional costs, similar to how a fallen domino can cause other dominoes to move.

    • My decision to quit smoking had a domino effect on my overall health, as I began to eat better and exercise more.

      This example uses the idiom in a positive light, to describe how one positive change can lead to further positive changes. In this case, quitting smoking may have led to a renewed focus on personal health, and the domino effect continued with healthy eating and exercise habits.

    • The news of the company's bankruptcy had a domino effect throughout the industry, as other companies began to struggle due to decreased demand and increased competition.

      This example illustrates how a significant event can cause a ripple effect throughout an entire industry, similar to how falling dominoes in a row can cause waves in a pond. In this case, the bankruptcy of one company led to increased competition and decreased demand for other companies in the same industry.

    • When a company offers a significant discount on its products, it can trigger a domino effect in the market.

      As other companies in the same industry see the success of the discount, they may also offer discounts or lower their prices to remain competitive. This can lead to a chain reaction where prices continue to decrease, benefiting consumers but potentially reducing profits for some businesses.

    • If a celebrity is accused of wrongdoing, it can have a domino effect on their career.

      As more accusations are made or evidence is revealed, other opportunities for the celebrity may disappear, such as endorsement deals, acting roles, or public appearances. This can lead to a downward spiral of negative publicity, reputation damage, and financial losses.

    • When a popular TV show ends, it can have a domino effect on the careers of its cast and crew.

      As audiences move on to other shows, the demand for the actors, writers, and producers may decrease, making it harder for them to find new work in the same field. This can lead to a long-term impact on their professional prospects, requiring them to explore other creative avenues or move into different industries.

    • If a medical breakthrough is announced, it can have a domino effect on related fields and treatments.

      As researchers and doctors learn more about the underlying mechanisms or benefits of the breakthrough, they may be inspired to pursue related lines of inquiry or modify existing therapies. This can lead to a cascade of advances in related fields, which may further improve patient outcomes and generate new areas of research.


    The idiom "domino effect" is commonly used to describe the chain reaction or spreading of events, ideas, or behaviors. It can be used to caution against engaging in a particular activity that may lead to negative consequences, or to illustrate how a single action can have far-reaching and interconnected effects. The term is often employed in discussions about social, political, and environmental issues to highlight the interconnectedness of events and the potential for rapid and widespread impact.

    Origin of "domino effect"

    The origin of the idiom "domino effect" can be traced back to the image of dominoes falling in a sequence. The concept of a chain reaction, where the toppling of one domino causes the next one to fall, has been used as a metaphor for interconnected events since the mid-20th century. The term gained popularity during the Cold War era, particularly in discussions about the potential consequences of a conflict or political decision. Over time, it has become a widely recognized expression for describing the interconnected and cascading nature of cause-and-effect relationships in various contexts. The visual imagery of falling dominoes continues to be a powerful and evocative representation of the idea of a domino effect.