Definition of mah-jongg in US English:


(also mah-jong)


  • A Chinese game played, usually by four people, with 136 or 144 rectangular pieces called tiles. The object is to collect winning sets of these tiles, as in card games such as gin rummy.

    • ‘The elderly like Chinese opera, drama, classical music, and playing mah-jongg.’
    • ‘For example the banning of mah-jong, a popular card game played with hard polyurethane tiles, only resulted in the development of a noiseless paper-based version.’
    • ‘He's on his cell phone, fixing up an evening game of mah-jongg.’
    • ‘His hosts complained about him playing mah-jong: it was noisy, and they were worried neighbours would think there was gambling going on.’
    • ‘Cybercafes, as a rule, exercise as much a magical power over schoolchildren as mah-jong over adults.’
    • ‘Card games and mah-jongg, a Chinese game similar to rummy that is played with ivory tiles, regularly involve gambling.’
    • ‘The teacher, surnamed Wang, had lost a lot of money to a man surnamed Wu when playing mah-jong in May this year.’
    • ‘While basketball, snowboarding and video games rule, Karaoke and mah-jongg are just as popular.’
    • ‘Elderly residents of Taipei will be able to celebrate Senior Citizens' Day this Saturday by playing mah-jong in a competition sponsored by the Taipei City Government.’
    • ‘Elderly men were sitting at the tables drinking tea, smoking or playing mah-jong.’
    • ‘Current items on display include crude wooden table hockey games, resembling pinball, from the 1940s; playing cards from Turkey, Hungary and China and the classic mah-jongg.’
    • ‘It's a very comfortable shoe to wear when playing mah-jong for a long time,’ said Chen.’
    • ‘Other exhibits included Chinese Kung Fu, Chinese chess, mah-jong, Chinese calligraphy and palmistry.’
    • ‘The government has closed thousands of underground betting parlors that were defying the long-standing official ban on gambling (a bit of mah-jongg with friends excepted).’
    • ‘On special occasions, like the Spring Festival, even children are allowed to play cards and mah-jong.’
    • ‘She played mah-jongg with movie stars, and dressed in the finest quality clothes, furs, and jewelry.’
    • ‘He wants to sign up more middle-aged customers who would prefer to play a quiet round of electronic chess or mah-jongg at home.’
    • ‘Anthony Wong is a harried family man who spends most of his time out of the house playing mah-jong.’
    • ‘By contrast, others manage to while away time playing mah-jong indoors.’
    • ‘Have dinner, watch TV, play mah-jong and say ‘Happy New Year’ to everyone you meet,’ said a young man.’


From Chinese dialect ma-tsiang, literally ‘sparrows’.