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The Domino Effect

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 15, 2004

In Reply to: The Domino Effect posted by ESC on March 15, 2004

: : : I am curious as to the origin of the coinage *The Domino Effect*. Is it an eponym? Or has it something to do with *diminish*? The word *domino* does not seem to carry any semblance to the implied phenomenon.

: : :
: : : Suddenly, I am embarrassed reading my first sentence. Is it right to capitalize the phrase "The Domino Effect" without any punctuation in a running sentence?

: : I believe it is OK to say: He was trying to explain "The Domino Effect."

: : Merriam-Webster online:
: : Main Entry: domino effect
: : Function: noun
: : : a cumulative effect produced when one event initiates a succession of similar events.

: :
: : It has to do with setting up dominos so when one falls, several fall. For the image of domino effect go to this site and page down:
: :

: DOMINO EFFECT - "the concept that if one strategically placed nation in an area goes Communist, the others will quickly follow. Dwight Eisenhower used the Joseph Alsop metaphor politically in 1954, in explaining his decision to offer economic aid to the South Vietnamese government of Ngo Dinh Diem, 'You have a row of dominoes set up,' said the President at a press conference, 'you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is that it will go over very quickly.'" From "Safire's New Political Dictionary" by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).

Sorry to get between the link and the apposite message. I have a comment about capital letters for domino effect. The attitude towards capital letters has changed a lot over the centuries, but nowadays strict editors and pedagogues prefer to reserve capital letters for specific situations, not including common nouns like domino effect. Names (Jesus H. Christ) and proper nouns (India, the Koran), which includes a lot of optional cases, have capitals. Style manuals often give a long list of cases where capitals are preferred. Some writers (including me) sometimes like to use capital letters for satirical or humorous effect, which most editors will reject out of hand. In informal writing I don't imagine anyone gives a damn whether you capitalize Domino Effect or not, but if you are writing for an editor, confine your special marking of the phrase to quotation marks. SS