- a game of Chinese origin usually played by four persons with 144 dominolike pieces or tiles marked in suits, counters, and dice, the object being to build a winning combination of pieces.
verb (used without object)
- to win a game of mah-jongg.
n.1922, from dialectal Chinese (Shanghai) ma chiang, name of the game, literally “sparrows,” from ma “hemp” + chiang “little birds.” The game so called from the design of the pieces. It had a vogue in Europe and the U.S. in the 1920s and for a time threatened to supplant bridge in popularity.