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Common Mahjong Terminology

Welcome to our quick guide on mahjong terminology! Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned player, this article will provide you with a comprehensive list of common terms used in the game of mahjong.


The wall of tiles is the stack of tiles that is arranged in a square at the beginning of the game. Each player takes a set of 13 tiles from the wall to form their hand.


There are three types of tiles in mahjong: suit tiles, honor tiles, and bonus tiles. Suit tiles include the character, circle, and bamboo suits, and there are four of each tile in each suit. Honor tiles include the wind and dragon tiles, and there are four of each type. Bonus tiles include the jokers and flower tiles, and the number of these tiles varies depending on the version of mahjong being played.


A rack is a holder for a player's tiles. It is used to keep the tiles organized and hidden from the other players.


A meld is a set of three tiles of the same type (either three of a kind or a run of three consecutive tiles).


A pong is a meld of three identical tiles.


A chow is a meld of three consecutive tiles in the same suit.


A pair is two identical tiles that are used to complete a winning hand.

Winning hand:

A winning hand consists of four sets (either three of a kind or a run of three consecutive tiles) and a pair. There are many different combinations that can make up a winning hand, and players must use strategy and skill to determine the best tiles to keep and discard.


A call is when a player asks for a specific tile that they need to complete a winning hand.


A discard is when a player gets rid of a tile that they no longer need.

Dead wall:

The dead wall is the portion of the wall that is not used during the game. It is usually placed to the side of the playing area.


The dora is a bonus tile that is revealed at the beginning of the game. It is worth extra points, and players can use it to complete their winning hand.

Red dora:

The red dora is a special dora that is worth even more points. It is revealed when a specific tile is discarded or drawn from the wall.


A kong is a meld of four identical tiles. It is worth more points than a pong.


Riichi is a declaration that a player is one tile away from completing a winning hand. It is a high-risk, high-reward move that can lead to big points if successful, but also carries the risk of losing points if the player is unable to complete the winning hand.


We hope this guide has provided you with a helpful overview of common mahjong terminology. Familiarizing yourself with these terms will help you understand the game and improve your skills as a player.


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