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.

    • ‘Have dinner, watch TV, play mah-jong and say ‘Happy New Year’ to everyone you meet,’ said a young man.’
    • ‘He's on his cell phone, fixing up an evening game of mah-jongg.’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘She played mah-jongg with movie stars, and dressed in the finest quality clothes, furs, and jewelry.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His hosts complained about him playing mah-jong: it was noisy, and they were worried neighbours would think there was gambling going on.’
    • ‘Other exhibits included Chinese Kung Fu, Chinese chess, mah-jong, Chinese calligraphy and palmistry.’
    • ‘Cybercafes, as a rule, exercise as much a magical power over schoolchildren as mah-jong over adults.’
    • ‘While basketball, snowboarding and video games rule, Karaoke and mah-jongg are just as popular.’
    • ‘It's a very comfortable shoe to wear when playing mah-jong for a long time,’ said Chen.’
    • ‘The teacher, surnamed Wang, had lost a lot of money to a man surnamed Wu when playing mah-jong in May this year.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The elderly like Chinese opera, drama, classical music, and playing mah-jongg.’
    • ‘By contrast, others manage to while away time playing mah-jong indoors.’
    • ‘Anthony Wong is a harried family man who spends most of his time out of the house playing mah-jong.’
    • ‘On special occasions, like the Spring Festival, even children are allowed to play cards and mah-jong.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Card games and mah-jongg, a Chinese game similar to rummy that is played with ivory tiles, regularly involve gambling.’
    • ‘Elderly men were sitting at the tables drinking tea, smoking or playing mah-jong.’


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