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The following are brief definitions of terms related to Tetris and similar games.

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Diagram Legend

The following is a legend detailing the functions of the various blocks used in the diagrams throughout the wiki articles.

Img Description
Tet.png Empty playfield cell
ZTet.png Red block (commonly part of Z tetromino)
LTet.png Orange block (commonly part of L tetromino)
OTet.png Yellow block (commonly part of O tetromino)
STet.png Green block (commonly part of S tetromino)
ITet.png Cyan block (commonly part of I tetromino)
JTet.png Blue block (commonly part of J tetromino)
TTet.png Purple block (commonly part of T tetromino)
GTet.png Gray block (Garbage or Playfield wall)
-Tet.png Ghost piece or Line clear
CTet.png Rotation center of a piece, a bomb in Bombliss, or any other specially marked block
PTet.png Purple block for the T Tetromino when executing a T-Spin
BTet.png Cell that has to be occupied for something (like a wallkick) to happen
XTet.png Cell that cannot be occupied for something (like a wallkick) to happen


See G.


Active piece
Alternate term for falling piece.
All Clear
Another term for a perfect clear, seen in some older games such as Magical Tetris Challenge, in addition to recent games such as Tetris 99.
A term for entry delay originating from Japan.
Arika Rotation System (ARS)
The rotation system used by most games published by Arika.


The act of performing two difficult line clears (Tetrises or spins) in a row, performed without a 1, 2, or 3-Line Clear occurring between them.
A class of randomizer in which a collection of pieces is shuffled, and all are dealt into the preview. (See Random Generator.)
Base (T-Spin)
The portion of a T-Spin setup, not directly under an overhang, where the T rests upon.
A solid element occupying one cell of the playfield. Also used as a synonym for "cell" to represent a length or width (e.g. a 2-block-tall hole). Multiple blocks make a piece such as a tetromino. In some publications, a "block" may refer to a whole piece, but uses "piece" or "tetromino" for clarity.
Block Out
To top out when part of a newly-generated piece is blocked due to an existing block in the field.
Bounding box
A conceptual mechanism for explaining rotation systems that allows depicting how orientations are positioned relative to one another.
Another term for a perfect clear, associated with the TGM series (which would display the message "Bravo!" when a perfect clear was achieved), but also seen in other games such as Tetris (PlayStation Portable).
Buffer Zone

An invisible area above the playfield used to detect Lock Out, Block Out, and Top Out Game Over Conditions. Both the buffer zone and playfield share the same dimensions.


The horizontal line separating the in-bounds rows of the playfield from the out-of-bounds rows. Most games place the ceiling at the top of row 20. In most games, the ceiling coincides with the top of the visible portion of the playfield.
A unit square within the playfield.
Placement of multiple consecutive pieces to clear lines.
An attack against an opponent’s line attacks to prevent garbage from appearing in one’s own field. Before any lines from an action can be sent to an opponent, one’s own garbage queue must first be cleared.


Delayed Auto Shift. Refers to the autorepeat of sideways movement.
Downward movement of a piece.


Entry delay
Time between when one piece finishes and when the following piece enters. Also known as ARE or appearance delay.


Fall speed
The speed at which a tetromino descends from the top of the field.
Falling piece
The tetromino or other piece under the player's control.
Fast drop
Another name for soft drop.
Firm drop
Moving the piece straight down as far as possible and starting the lock delay.
Floor kick
Upward movement of a piece when it rotates against the floor of the playfield or other blocks.
Period during which the sequence of rotation, movement, and gravity is executed, and the result is displayed. Video games in Japan and North America run at 60 frames per second.


A unit of speed of one cell per frame. Refers most often to gravity; can also refer to DAS or soft drop speed. For example, when gravity is 20G, each piece falls so quickly that it instantly spawns on top of the playfield.
Rows of blocks added to the bottom of the playfield at the start of the game or during the game.
Ghost piece
A marker in the playfield showing where the falling piece will land. Known in TGM as Temporary Landing System (TLS).
The condition that must be met before a Level Up (or game completed) takes place, and is typically a number of lines left to be cleared. The Goal depends on the goal system used. For the Fixed Goal System used in many games, 10 lines must be cleared on each level.
  1. The automatic downward movement of a piece over time.
  2. Short for line clear gravity.
  3. Another term for cascade gravity.
The specification for how Tetris games made in roughly 2001 and later should operate.


Hard drop
Moving the piece straight down as far as possible and locking it immediately. It does not allow for further player manipulation of the piece.
Placing the falling piece in storage and moving the piece that was in storage (or next in line if no piece was in storage) to the top of the playfield.
An empty cell in a stack that needs line clears above it to be corrected.


Initial Hold System (IHS)
A rule allowing the player to hold the next piece during entry delay.
Initial Rotation System (IRS)
A rule allowing the player to rotate a piece as it enters the playfield by pressing and holding a button during entry delay.
Move reset with unlimited resets. In the past this was also used to refer to move reset in general, but with a limited number of resets now being standard this usage is obsolete.


Jiznickery [1]
A misdrop due to an inadvertent zangi-move. It happens in games with firm drop when the player drops a piece but does not wait long enough for the piece to lock before trying to charge DAS or input IRS for the next piece. The New Tetris was especially susceptible due to its lack of manual locking.


Level 29 in NES tetris, when the pieces fall too fast for a player to reasonably keep playing.


Level Up
Upon completion of a level’s goal, the player proceeds to the next level.
The result when blocks fill a horizontal line of cells.
Line attack
An act of sending garbage lines to other players.
Line clear
Creation of a complete row of blocks with no holes after a piece locks. It disappears, and the blocks above the row move down.
After a piece has landed on the floor of the playfield or on other blocks, it becomes part of the playfield and is no longer subject to the player's control. Or to cancel lock delay, causing a piece to lock immediately.
Lock delay
The time between when a piece lands and when it locks.
See Lock.
Lock Out
To top out by locking a piece above the ceiling. [2]


A term used by The Tetris Company for a playfield.
  1. A term used by The Tetris Company for a block;[3] this term is little used outside TTC.
  2. The "block creatures" in the games Tetris Worlds and Kids Tetris are also called Minos.
  3. In Japanese Sega Tetris/TGM parlance, the term is used as an abbreviation of "Tetramino", thus referring to the whole piece instead of a single cell. The term "block", however, is used more often.
A misdrop is when a player accidentally drops a tetromino in the wrong place, or in the wrong orientation.
Move reset
A rule in which lock delay resets every time a piece is shifted or rotated.


Next piece
Alternate term for piece preview.


The direction that a piece faces. The number of orientations in Tetris pieces may not always be equal to the number of geometric orientations a shape can take. Shapes like Z, S, and I which only has two orientations, or O, which has only one, can be treated as having four internal representations in some games, most commonly those that implement the Super Rotation System.
A block or column of blocks extending from a wall of blocks over an empty cell or column. Overhangs are commonly used as a method of reordering piece placements when a player receives undesirable tetromino sequences. In games where T-Spins are rewarded, overhangs may be used to set up a T-Spin.


Perfect clear
When the player clears the whole playfield without leaving any blocks behind. Also known as an all clear or bravo.
A set of blocks that moves as a unit.
Piece preview
A display area of the tetrion devoted to displaying the next pieces that will enter the playfield.
A grid of cells into which pieces are placed.


Alternate term for a Tetris line clear, used in fan games such as Worldwide Combos.
Alternate term for a Tetris line clear, used in fan games such as Spirit Drop and TETR.IO, and also short for Quadruple.


Random Generator
A specific randomizer used in guideline games that guarantees an even distribution of piece types. It consists of a bag with one of each of the seven tetrominoes.
An algorithm that generates a sequence of piece types.
Receiving Queue
A vertical meter (usually seen in guideline games) that accrues opponents’ line attacks between locked pieces. When a piece locks, any lines accrued in the meter are added to the bottom of that player’s field before generation of the next piece.
See "well", definition 2. [4]
A Japanese term for combos.
To change a piece's orientation. Rotation generally occurs at 90 degree intervals, and may be performed in either the clockwise or counterclockwise directions.
Rotating the tires
Alternate term for a twist.[5]
Rotation system
A rule specifying the orientation for each piece type and the movements (including wall kicks and floor kicks) when changing orientations.


Alternate term for ghost piece.
Moving a piece sideways.
Placing a piece under an overhang by moving it sideways.
Soft drop
Moving the piece down faster than gravity from its current location, while still retaining control over it.
Sonic drop
A name for firm drop arising from the TGM community.
Sonic lock
A name for hard drop arising from the TGM community.
See Drop or Tetromino Per Time.
Super Rotation System (SRS)
A rotation system devised to enable the rotation of a Tetromino regardless of where it is in the field, used by games that adhere to the Tetris Guideline.
Step reset
Lock delay resets every time the falling piece moves downward.


Temporary Landing System (TLS)
Arika's name for the ghost piece.
Effect of failure to adapt to different variations of a puzzle game, especially different rotation systems. (Coined by colour_thief[6] as a portmanteau of "tetromino" and "jet lag".)
Alternate term for tetromino used in Nintendo Power reviews of 8-bit Tetris games.
Alternate term for tetromino allegedly used by The Tetris Company in the late 1990s.
Alternate term for tetromino used by The Tetris Company as of Tetris Worlds.
A term used by The Tetris Company for the game object that contains a playfield. Different tetrions may implement different variations of the game rules.
  1. The Tetris Company's trademark for products implementing the Soviet Mind Game.
  2. The act of clearing four lines with one tetromino.
A piece consisting of four square blocks joined at the sides. Precise language uses the letter names, but some players use the color names.
Initial orientations and colors of the pieces in SRS.
Initial orientations and colors of the pieces in ARS.

Top out
An endgame condition occurring when:
Singleplayer: A piece reaches the top of the playfield.
Multiplayer: A player receives garbage lines that force the player’s existing blocks to the top of the buffer zone and past the top out line.
Top Out Line
The ceiling of the buffer zone, above the ceiling with the same height as the normal field.
A twist achieved by first landing a T-piece, and before it locks, rotating it in a T-shaped slot.
Placing a piece under an overhang by rotating it.


Vanish zone
The out-of-bounds region above the playfield ceiling.


Wall kick
Sideways movement of a piece when it rotates against the floor of the playfield or other blocks.
  1. A term used in some older games for the playfield.
  2. (also Tetris well) A term used to refer to a single-column hole in at least four adjacent rows.


Moving a piece downward, sliding it, and locking it.

See also

External links