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Glossary of Solitaire Terms

The game of Solitaire (also known as the game of Patience) has its own cryptic lingo. Many players have been enjoying the game of solitaire since they were children, yet don't know the names of the various components of the game. This page contains a glossary of solitaire terms. The terms and definitions below have grown organically through time, rather than being assigned systematically. Thus, definitions are not hard and fast, and there seems to be an exception to every rule.


Cell

A space containing a single card, at most. The cell is intended to be a temporary holding slot to aid in manipulation of the tableau. Games may have multiple cells. The popular FreeCell game has four cells.

Deal

The deal is the initial setup procedure. Starting with the entire deck in the player's hand, the player removes cards from the deck, one by one, laying each card in the tableau. Some solitaire games deal the entire deck to the tableau, while other games deal a portion of the deck to the tableau, placing the remaining cards in the stock.

Deck

As pertains to solitaire, a deck is a standard set of fifty-two cards, consisting of thirteen cards (Ace through King), in each of the four suits. Jokers are not typically present in solitaire decks.

Foundation

Several piles of cards, typically one pile per suit, in numerical order, starting with the Ace, and ending with the King. The object of most solitaire games is to move all cards to the foundation.

Patience

An alternate name for the game of solitaire. Although the name "patience" is often cited as British English, and "solitaire" is often cited as American English, the two are interchangeable in either language.

Stock

An active pile of cards from which cards are drawn. Typically, the stock is face-down, and cards are flipped one at a time, or three at a time. The flipped cards are placed in the waste, or played immediately.

Tableau

An often elaborate layout of cards in piles, cascades, or other arrangements, where the active game play takes place. The rules governing the tableau distinguish one solitaire game from another. The object of most solitaire games is to clear the tableau of all cards by moving them to the foundation.

Waste

An inactive pile of cards, face-up, containing unplayable cards from the stock. In some games, when the stock is exhausted, the entire waste pile may be flipped over to become the new stock.

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