a theory that if one country is taken over by an expansionist, especially Communist, neighbor, party, or the like, the nearby nations will be taken over one after another.
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Origin of domino theory
First recorded in 1960–65
Words nearby domino theory
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
Cultural definitions for domino theory
The idea that if one key nation in a region fell to control of communists, others would follow like toppling dominoes. The theory was used by many American leaders to justify American intervention in the Vietnam War. (See policy of containment.)
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.