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History of the Term "Domino Effect"

The term "domino effect" or "domino principle" has entered the language to the point where it can be seamlessly used to describe the effect of one event causing another, and another, and so on.  But where does it originate from.

The term was first coined by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a news conference he made on April 7th 1954 when he referred to the possible effect of Indochina falling under communist rule.  His theory was that once a single area became communist then other surrounding countries would in turn become communist.  The implication was that a small change in one location would cause a similar change in another nearby location, which would in turn do the same, and so on.  It subsequently became a US foreign policy theory that continued to the 1980s and was used by successive American governments during the Cold War to justify intervention in other countries.

"Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the "falling domino" principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences."

 -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 7th 1954












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