List of terminology by alphabetical order

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Naturally, the featured game is Japanese mahjong. Therefore, a multitude number of Japanese terminology are used. The following list includes the Japanese terminology, English equivalent, and the terminology usage.

A

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Agari

「和がり」
Win

Generic term for winning a hand.
Aidayonken

「間四軒」

An interval of four between two discarded number tiles. Usually indicates dangerous waits. A discarded 1 and 6 make a 2—5 wait very probable.
Akapai

「赤牌」
Red dora

Red tiles that count as Dora. Usually fives, but not always.
An

「暗」
Closed, concealed

Means "dark", refers to tiles that are concealed in the hand.
Anjun

「暗順」
Concealed sequence

Three self-drawn consecutive tiles of the same suit, used as one of the four melds in a regular hand. An open sequence would be a minjun, the general term for a sequence is shuntsu.
Ankan

「暗槓」
Concealed kan

Four self-drawn identical tiles set aside as a kantsu. Declaring an ankan does not open the hand if it was previously closed.
Ankou

「暗刻」
Concealed triplet

Three self-drawn identical tiles, used as one of the four melds in a regular hand. Compare with the yaku names san ankou and suu ankou. An open triplet would be a minkou, and the general term for any triplet is koutsu.
Anpai

「安牌」
Safe tile

Safe tile, or tiles not subject to agari (to be called as winning tiles).
Aotenjou

「青天井」
No capping

A rarely used rule, which eliminates the score cappings mangan, haneman, etc., and scores all hands as directly with the scoring formula.
Ari

「あり,アリ,有り」
In effect, on

States that the preceding rule is used, as in akadora ari for playing with red fives. Opposite of nashi.
Ari ari

「アリアリ」

Ruleset which allows kuitan and atozuke. Most common basic set of rules in Japan.
Atama

「頭」
Pair, eye

The pair in a standard mahjong hand. Also "jantou".
Atozuke

「先付け」
After-attach

Allows a hand to win despite having no guaranteed yaku while in tenpai, as long as the winning tile generates a yaku. Opposite of sakizuke.
Awaseuchi

「合わせ打ち」

Discarding the same tile as someone else, to avoid dealing into their hand.


B

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Ba

「場」
Wind round

A “wind round”, e.g. tonba (east round) or nanba (south round).
Bakahon

「バカホン」

Slang for honitsu nomi with no extra yaku or dora.
Bakaze

「場風」
Round wind

Round wind.
Barai

「払い」
Payment

A payment. Also “furikomi”.
Bazoro

「場ゾロ」

The two base Han used when calculating score, given by default rather than from yaku.
Betaori

「ベタ降り」
Full defense

A strategy that focuses entirely on avoiding dealing into opponents’ hands, with no intention of developing one’s own hand.


C

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Chakan

「加槓」
Added kan

A kantsu that was upgraded from a minkou.
Chii

「チー」

The call used to make a minjun from an opponent’s discard.
Chombo

「冲合」

A penalty that results in a mangan payment and restarts the current round.
Chunchan

「中張」

The tiles numbered 2 through 8.


D

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Daburon

「ダブロン」
Double ron

A rule that allows two people to Ron the same tile.
Daiminkan

「大明槓」
Open kan

A kan formed with possession of three tile types, and calling on the discarded fourth tile.
Damaten

「黙聴」
Hidden tenpai

A tactic of holding tenpai without calling riichi.
Dejitaru

「デジタル」
Digital

A school of thought focused on the outcome of a game, explained by probability and statistics.
Dorahyouji

「ドラ表示」
Dora indicator

The flipped tile on the dead wall, indicating the dora.


E

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
'

「」


F

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Fu

「符」
Mini-points

A unit used to measure the hand's score, based on meld and wait composition.
Furikomi

「振り込み」
Payment

A payment, also “barai”.
Furiten

「振聴」
Sacred discard

A rule that disables a player's ability to win by discard, due to the presence of a winning tile in the discard and/or the declining of a win during riichi.
Fuutei

「副底」
Base fu

The 20 base Fu used when calculating score, given by default rather than from composition.


G

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Genbutsu

「現物」
Safe tile

A 100% safe tile.


H

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Haipai

「配牌」
Start hand

The players' dealt tiles at the beginning of a hand.
Haiteihai

「海底牌」
Last draw

The last drawable tile in the wall.
Haiyama

「牌山」
Wall

The walls from which tiles are drawn.
Han

「飜」

The hand value count based on yaku value and/or dora.
Hanchan

「半荘」
Full East-South game

A game consisting of an East and South round.
Harabote

「腹ボテ」

A Shanpon or Tanki wait embedded inside a Shuntsu. For example, 4556 waiting on 5.
Honba

「本場」

A counter to indicate the number of hands in-between winning hands, usually indicated by 100-point sticks.
Houjuu

「放銃」
Deal in

To deal into a hand.
Houra

「和了」

To win a hand
Houteihai

「河底牌」
Last discard

The very last discarded tile for a hand.


I

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Iichan

「一荘」
4 round game

A game consisting of East, South, West, and North rounds. More common in Chinese variants.
Ikasama

「イカサマ」

To cheat using sleight of hand, etc.
Inchiki

「雀頭」
Pair

The pair in a standard mahjong hand. Also named “atama”.


J

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Jantou

「雀頭」
Pair, eye

The pair in a standard mahjong hand. Also “atama”.
Jansou

「雀荘」
Mahjong parlor

A public place specifically used to host and cater mahjong play
Jigokumachi

「地獄待ち」
Hell wait

A wait in which all but one of the winning tiles are visible or claimed.
Jihai

「字牌」
Honor tiles

Character tiles (sangenpai and kazehai).
Jikaze

「自風」
Self wind

Your seat wind.
Jun

「巡」
Turn

The turn number within a round.


K

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Kabe

「壁」

A tile-counting technique that measures the possibility of someone making Shuntsu based on how many instances of a tile are visible.
Kamicha

「上家」

The player to the left of one's perspective.
Kantsu

「槓子」

A meld of four identical tiles, which must be declared as kan to be counted as such.
Karaten

「」

The state of a tenpai hand, by which all available waiting tiles are not available due to discards and/or dora indicators.
Kanchan

「嵌張」
Closed wait

A wait that completes the inside of a Shuntsu, like a 4-6 waiting on 5.
Kandora

「カンドラ」

Additional dora indicators revealed after calling kan.
Kazehai

「風牌」
Winds

Wind tiles.
Kikenhai

「危険牌」
Dangerous tile

Dangerous tile, or a tile that may be likely used by another player to win with.
Kiru

「切る」
Discard

To discard a tile.
Koutsu

「刻子」
Triplet

A meld of three identical tiles.
Kuikae

「喰い替え」

A rule that allows you to call a tile, then discard another tile that could have completed the meld. For example, to chi 123 and discard a 4.
Kuisagari

「喰い下がり」

A property of some yaku that reduces the han value by 1 when the hand is open.
Kuitan

「喰い断」
Open tanyao

A rule that allows tanyao to be open.
Kyoku

「局」
Round, Hand session

A portion of the game, starting from the dealing of tiles and ends with the declaration of a win, aborted hand, or draw. Examples: East Round 1. South Round 2.


L

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
'

「」


M

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Machi

「待ち」
Wait pattern

The tiles waiting for with a tenpai hand.
Manzu

「萬子」
Characters

One of the three numbered suits, consisting of a kanji number plus 萬, meaning 10000.
Mawashiuchi

「回し打ち」

The strategy of attempting to develop a hand, while discarding only safe tiles.
Mentanpin

「メンタンピン」

Abbreviation for Menzen-Tanyao-Pinfu, a common set of yaku.
Mentsu

「面子」
Meld, Group (tiles)

The melds: koutsu, shuntsu, and kantsu.
Menzen

「門前」
Closed hand

A fully closed hand, thus no open melds.
Min

「明」
Open

Meaning “light”, refers to tiles that have been exposed by calling.
Minjun

「」
Open sequence

An open shuntsu, or a sequence of three consecutive tiles, formed by calling chii on the previously missing tile. A concealed shuntsu would be an anjun.
Minkou

「明刻」
Open triplet

An open koutsu made by calling a discarded tile.

N

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Naki

「鳴き」

Calling a discarded tile.
Nan

「南」
South

South wind tile.
Nashi

「なし,ナシ,無し」
Invalid, off

States that the preceding rule is not in effect, as in kuikae nashi for disallowing players to call a tile and immediately discard another tile which would have also completed the called meld.
Nashi Nashi

「ナシナシ」

Ruleset which disallows kuitan and atozuke. Opposite of Ari Ari.
Nobetan

「延べ単」

A double Tanki wait, e.g. 4567 waiting on 4 or 7.
Noten

「ノーテン」

When your hand is not in tenpai at the end of the round.
Noten bappu

「ノーテン罰符」
Noten penalty

A payment made at the end of a round by those who are not in tenpai (or choose not to reveal their hands) to those who are in tenpai.
Nukidora

「抜きドラ」
Extracted dora

A tile that counts as Dora when extracted from the hand, e.g. flower tiles or the Pei (North) in most three-player variants.


O

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Occult

「オカルト」
Occult, Superstition

A school of thought tying game outcome with luck, flow, mahjong demons, psychology, etc.
Oka

「オカ」
Winner bonus

First place bonus applied when calculating uma.
Oikake riichi

「追いかけリーチ」
Riichi challenge

To declare riichi after someone else rather than defend.
Okurikan

「送り槓」

Four tiles that could be called for kan, but rather left undeclared in order to use the tiles for other melds.
Oorasu

「オーラス」
All last, Last hand

The final regular hand of a game.
Otakaze

「客風」
Off wind tiles

Non-bonus wind tiles. For example, if seated South in the East round, then Otakaze are West and North tiles.
Oya

「親」
Dealer

The dealer position, seated east


P

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Pao

「包」

A property of certain yakuman that causes one person to be responsible for the whole payment if they discarded the tile that made it a yakuman.
Pei

「北」
North

North wind tile.
Penchan

「辺張」
End wait

A wait consisting of 12 waiting on 3, or 89 waiting on 7.
Pinzu

「筒子」
Dots, Circles

The suit consisting of dot patterns.
Pon

「ポン」

A tile call used to make a minkou from an opponent’s discard.


Q

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
'

「」


R

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Renchan

「連荘」

A continuation of dealer position because the dealer either won or was tenpai at the end of the round.
riipai

「理牌」

Arranging the tiles in your hand.
Rinshanpai

「嶺上牌」

The tile drawn after making a Kan.
Ron

「栄 or ロン」

A win using an opponent’s discard.
Routouhai

「老頭牌」
Terminals

The tiles numbered 1 and 9.
Ryankan

「両嵌」

Two kanchan shaped taatsu merged together, e.g. 357 which can be completed by either 4 or 6.
Ryanmen

「両面」
Open wait

A two-sided wait, like 56 waiting on 4 or 7.
Ryuukyoku

「流局」
Drawn hand

The end of the hand, where every tile not in players' hands and the dead wall has been drawn and discarded; and no winning hand was determined.


S

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Saikoro

「骰子」
Dice

The dice, used to determine dealer position and wall breaks.
Sakizuke

「先付け」

Disallows a yakuless hand to win upon gaining yaku with a discard. Opposite to atozuke.
Sangenpai

「三元牌」
Dragons

The dragon tiles: Haku, Hatsu, and Chun.
Sanma

「」
Three player, 3P

The game played with three players.
Sashikomi

「差し込み」

Intentionally dealing into an opponent’s hand.
Shaa

「西」
West

The west tile.
Shabo

「シャボ」
Dual pair

Abbreviation of shanpon.
Shanten

「向聴」

Number of tiles needed to reach tenpai.
Shanpon

「双ポン」
Dual pairs

A wait consisting of two pairs, one of which must be upgraded to a koutsu.
Shibori

「絞り」

Holding on to tiles that an opponent would otherwise be likely to pon or chi.
Shimocha

「下家」
Right player

The player to the right.
Shoku

「色」
Color

Suit. Literally means "color".
Shonpai

「生牌」
Live tile

A tile that has not yet been discarded this round.
Shuntsu

「」
Sequence

This is the generic term for, three consecutive tiles of the same suit, whether open or closed. Chii is used to call a tile to complete a shuntsu and set it aside as a minjun (open). A concealed (closed) shuntsu is an anjun.
Shuupai

「数牌」
Number tiles

The number tiles. Also “suupai”.
Souzu

「索子」
Bamboo tiles

The suit consisting of patterns of bamboo sticks.
Suji

「筋」
Tile interval

The tiles that complete ryanmen (open waits). Means “muscle”.
Suupai

「数牌」
Number tiles

The number tiles. Also “shuupai”.
Suteru

「捨てる」
To discard

To discard a tile.


T

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Taatsu

「塔子」

A tile pattern that can be turned into a shuntsu with one more tile. For example, 46 can be completed with a 5.
Takame

「高目」

The specific tile with a multiple tile wait, during tenpai, that would produce the most points. Opposite of yasume.
Tanyaohai

「断幺牌」
Simples

The tiles numbered 2 through 8. Also “chunchan”.
Tanki

「単騎」
Pair wait

A wait on a single tile to complete the pair.
Tenbou

「点棒」
Point sticks

Point sticks.
Tenpai

「聴牌」
Ready

A hand that needs only one tile to win.
Tenpane

「テンパネ」

The advantage of rounding up to the higher 10 fu mark, when just crossing the previous 10 fu. Example: Being 2 fu above 30 fu, allowing an above rounding of 40 fu.
Tochuu ryuukoku

「途中流局」
Abortive draw

Specific conditions that immediately ends a hand session.
Toitsu

「対子」
Pair

A pair of identical tiles.
Toimen

「対面」
Across

The player sitting directly across from you.
Ton

「東」
East

East wind tile.
Tonpuusen

「東風戦」
East only round

A game consisting of an East only round.
Tsumo

「自摸」
Self-draw

A self-drawn tile. Also short for Menzenchin tsumohou, or winning by self-draw.
Tsumokiri

「ツモ切り」

Discarding the tile that was just drawn.


U

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Uma

「ウマ」
+/-

An additional end game score, calculated based on the ante, plus-minus adjustment, and game rank.
Ura dora

「裏ドラ」
Underneath dora

Additional dora located underneath previously revealed dora indicators, which can be earned by winning with riichi.


V

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
'

「」


W

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
wanpai

「王牌」

The “dead” section of wall that can’t be used except for Dora indicators and Kan draws.
wareme

「割れ目」

A rule that doubles any payment involving the player whose wall was broken at the start of a kyoku


X

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
'

「」


Y

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Yakitori

「焼き鳥」
Winless game

A penalty applied after a hanchan to players who did not win at least one hand
Yaku

「役」
Hand pattern

A scoring pattern in the hand that awards Han, such as Tanyao or Toitoi.
Yama

「山」

The tile walls, literally means "mountains".
Yaochuuhai

「幺九牌」

All tiles numbered 1 and 9 (routouhai) plus characters (jihai).
Yasude

「安手」
Cheap hand

A low scoring hand.
Yasume

「安目」

The specific tile(s) in a multiple wait that would produce the least points. Oppose of takame.


Z

Japanese Kanji English Explanation
Zentsuppa

「全ツッパ」
All out

A strategy that attempts to win a hand at all costs while ignoring the possibility of dealing into an opponent’s hand.


External links

Terminology list at Osamuko