Where does the word “fantan” come from and What does fantan mean in Chinese?

Neither portion of fantan is an English word; the whole merely approximates the Chinese name of a simple game of chance.

In the native form a small heap of coins is covered by a bowl and the players then place bets, not on the number of coins so concealed, but on the remainder, one, two, or three, when the total is divided by four.

The Chinese name means “remainder.” Variations have, of course, been introduced.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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