Mahjong Terminology


Mahjong Terminology

Mahjong is a wonderfully crafted tile game for 4 players which started in China. The game involves a combination of skill, strategy, intelligence, calculation and often a little bit of luck.

The equipment needed for playing Mahjong is a set of tiles, chips and dice. The game of Mahjong is normally played with tiles, and sometimes with playing cards.

Increase your Mahjong vocabulary with Casino Cash Journey's mahjong reference guide below.

Click for details on history, how to play, and Chinese terminology.

Mahjong Terms

Abandoned Game
A player forfeits a game and stops to make plays, causing an abandoned game.

Accept
To make a play – Pong, Chow or Kong.

Bamboo Suit
One of the three suits.

Basic Mahjong
A game of Mahjong played without the basic tiles.

Bonus Tiles
The four flower tiles and the four season tiles, also known as optional tiles. These cannot be kept in a player’s hand and must be revealed or declared on a turn,

Breaking the Wall
A process used to decide the area of the wall from which tiles are dealt to the players.

Building the Wall
After the shuffling process, players each build a wall with their 17 or 18 tiles, stacked two tiles high. The structures are pushed towards each other to form a square known as the Mahjong wall.

Character Suit
One of the three suits – also known as a wan.

Chi
Chinese word for a sequence of three consecutive tiles of the same suit – also known as a Chow.

Chicken Hand
The lowest scoring hand, containing mixed suits and a combination of Chows, Pongs and Kongs.

Chow
A sequence of three consecutive tiles in the same suit, also known as Chi.

Circles Suit
One of the three common suits.

Claim a Discard
To pick up a tile which was discarded by another player.

Combine
To match up tiles to form a group of three or more tiles.

Common Tiles
108 tiles comprised of the four sets of the same suit, with each tile numbered from 1 – 9 in three different suits – circles, bamboo and character.

Complete Hand
A winning hand made up of at least 14 tiles.

Concealed Hand
A complete hand which is not revealed to other players until a win is declared.

Concealed Meld
Pongs or Kongs that are formed by being dealt to the player or by picking a tile from the wall.

Dead Tile
A discarded tile that can not longer be played. Once a tile is discarded, it cannot be recalled by the discarder. If it is not picked up by another player at the next turn, it becomes a dead tile – unusable.

Dead Wall
A section of the Mahjong wall from which players receive replacement tiles for Kongs and bonus tiles.

Dealer
The player chosen to begin the game by breaking the wall.

Declare
A player must reveal or declare their bonus tiles to the opponents at the beginning of their turn.

Discard
When a player removes a tile from his hands and places it, face up, into the discard area or well.

Discard Area
The section of the Mahjong table in the middle of the wall where unwanted tiles are discarded.

Dragon Tile
One of the honor tiles. There are three types of dragon tiles – red, white and green.

Draw
When the game ends after all the tiles in the live wall have been used and there is no winner.

East Wind
One of the wind directions used to determine the direction of play and who the dealer is at the beginning of the game.

Exposed Hand
A hand made up of one or more sets that have been revealed during the course of the game.

Exposed Meld
A Pong, Kong or Chow made up from discarded tiles.

Eyes
A matching pair of tiles, which is generally needed to complete a Mahjong hand and declare a win, along with four matching sets of three or four tiles.

Flower Tiles
The bonus tiles which feature a picture of a flower.

Four Winds
The four winds symbolize the seating arrangements: East, West, North and South. A player who is the East Wind, gets to be the dealer and starts the game.

Game
A game is a set of plays between four players, starting with the East Wind. A game ends when a player goes Mahjong or a draw is declared.

Game End
The end of the game when someone goes Mahjong or a draw is called.

Going Mahjong
The term used when a player has completed his hand with the required sets and has won the game.

Gong
A set of four identical tiles, most often referred to as a Kong.

Great Wall of China
The four lines of players’ tiles which are pushed together to form a square, or Mahjong wall.

Hand
The set of tiles held by a player during the game.

Hong Kong Rules
The most common set of rules used in Mahjong.

Honor Tiles
The Wind and Dragon tiles are elevated from the common suit tiles and bonus tiles.

Kong
A set of four identical tiles – also known as a Gong.

Kong, Robbing the..
Taking the fourth tile of an exposed Kong from another player, resulting in a win.

Leaping Tiles
The dealer performs this ritual when all the tiles are being distributed from the wall. The dealer does not wait until all the players have 13 tiles before selecting his first tile to play.

Live Wall
The section of the wall from which the tiles are dealt and the players select their tiles during the game.

Loose Tiles
Replacement tiles that are picked from the dead wall as a replacement for bonus tiles or a fourth tile used in a Kong.

Mahjong
A winning hand combination of tiles with a combination of Pongs, Kongs or Chows and a pair. To go Mahjong means to call the winning hand.

Matched Pair
Two identical tiles, also known as the eyes.

Matched Set
A set of tiles which make up a Chow Pong or Kong.

Meld
A Chow, Pong or Kong – a set of matched tiles.

Meld (to..)
To combine tiles into sets of three or more to form a Pong, Kong or Chow.

Mixed Hand
A hand which consists of sets of tiles from more than one suit.

North Wind
One of the wind directions used to determine seating arrangements at the start of play.

Optional Tiles
The Flower tiles or the Season tiles.

Own Wind
A player’s wind direction.

Pair
A set of two identical tiles, also known as eyes.

Penalty
Penalties are sometimes granted when a player makes errors in play.

Pick
To select a tile from the live wall or from the discard area and to put it in your hand.

Play
A move made by a player.

Pong
A set of three identical tiles.

Ready Hand
A hand that is one tile short of winning.

Replacement Tiles
Tiles picked from the dead wall in order to replace bonies tiles or tiles laid down with a Kong.

Reveal
To turn a tile face up on the table so other players’ viewing.

Revealed Hand
A hand containing one or more sets of revealed tiles.

Revealed Sets
Matching sets that are revealed to the opponents during the game.

Run
A set of consecutive numbered tiles made up from the common suits.

Score
The total number of points gained at the end of the hand.

Season Tiles
Four bonus or optional tiles depicting the seasons of the year.

Set
A group of matching tiles – Chow, Pong or Kong; and eyes.

Self Draw
When a player selects a tile from the wall.

Sequence
Three tiles in consecutive order, also known as a Chow.

Set
A Chow, Pong or Kong, or pair.

Simples
Suit tiles from numbers 2-8.

South Wind
One of the wind directions used to indicate seating arrangements.

Suit
One of the three symbols displayed on the common tiles – bamboos, characters or circles.

Suit Tile
The 108 tiles numbered 1- 9 in the bamboo, character or circle suits.

Terminals
Suit tiles numbered 1 or 9.

Wall
The structure made from the tiles at the beginning of play. When all four walls are pushed together, they form the Great Wall of China .

Wan
Another name for the character suit.

West Wind
One of the wind directions used to determine seating arrangements.

Wind
One of the honor tiles indicating a compass direction.

Wind Indicator
A special disk and name plate combination that indicates the players’ seating positions – East, West, South and North.

Winning Hand
A complete hand used to call a Mahjong.

Posted by Denise Marie