pla·​teau | \ pla-ˈtō How to pronounce plateau (audio) , ˈpla-ˌtō \
plural plateaus also plateaux\ pla-​ˈtōz How to pronounce plateau (audio) , ˈpla-​ˌtōz \

Definition of plateau

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a usually extensive land area having a relatively level surface raised sharply above adjacent land on at least one side : tableland
b : a similar undersea feature
2a : a region of little or no change in a graphic representation
b : a relatively stable level, period, or condition
3 : a level of attainment or achievement the 500-point plateau


plateaued; plateauing; plateaus

Definition of plateau (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to reach a level, period, or condition of stability or maximum attainment

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Synonyms for plateau

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of plateau in a Sentence

Noun a plateau covering hundreds of miles The price of gas seems to have reached a plateau. Verb Sales of computers have plateaued in recent years.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun DeWine said the virus, which had been on a downward trend, is beginning to plateau. cleveland, "President Joe Biden makes his first post-election stop in Ohio: Capitol Letter," 23 Mar. 2021 Daily coronavirus cases reported in the city and state appear to have reached a plateau after a post-holiday spike, death rates and hospitalization rates related to the virus are on the decline, and more people are receiving the vaccine. New York Times, "Mixed Virus Data Has Some Experts Questioning Pace of N.Y.C. Reopening," 20 Mar. 2021 The global situation has public health experts in the United States worried about a potential fourth wave here, and indeed cases are starting to plateau and even tick up in a few parts of the country. Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, "The race between variants and vaccines is heating up. Can the Bay Area pull ahead?," 19 Mar. 2021 While Covid-19 cases are beginning to plateau or decline in many nations, Brazil is reporting record daily numbers. Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, "Biden to hit goal of 100 million vaccinations, as US prepares to send shots to Canada and Mexico," 19 Mar. 2021 Cases were falling in Spain and the United Kingdom for weeks but have started to plateau. Jeremy Beaman, Washington Examiner, "CDC director warns of COVID-19 cases climbing as TSA reports over 1M travelers for five straight days," 16 Mar. 2021 Brown played in his 1,200th career regular-season game, joining five other active players who have reached the plateau. Warren Mayes, Star Tribune, "Quick earns 54th career shutout, Kings beat Blues 3-0," 22 Feb. 2021 Situated on a plateau in southwest Colorado at an altitude of more than 8,500 feet, visitors can view hundreds of archaeological sites including endless cliff dwellings. Margie Goldsmith, Forbes, "It’s Time To Leave The House, Hit The Road And Visit A National Park," 9 Mar. 2021 The putting green sits on a plateau between the clubhouse and the bridge over Wirth Parkway that leads to the first tee. Patrick Reusse, Star Tribune, "Shorty, Fast Eddie and putting for quarters — lots of them," 27 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Modeling indicates that the area’s outbreak could plateau toward the end of the month and start to abate sometime in February, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said during the daily coronavirus briefing. Lauren Caruba,, "‘Extremely dangerous’: San Antonio’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continue frightening upward trajectory as officials report 1,585 new cases," 11 Jan. 2021 But experts fear that without coordinated and sustained efforts, the country will plateau at this high level of cases. Andrew Joseph, STAT, "Fauci warns that Labor Day celebrations could drive Covid-19 spikes," 4 Sep. 2020 Unemployment claims filed with the Texas Workforce Commission have plateaued since peaking in April. Dallas News, "Jobs are back, but don’t declare victory yet, not even in Texas," 5 June 2020 Both rates have decreased since the survey began and started to plateau in recent weeks. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "Latino homes report serious COVID-19 symptoms nearly twice as often, survey of 1.6 million shows," 1 June 2020 Despite Tuesday's grim numbers, Beshear and health commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said the rate of new virus cases continues to plateau. Jonathan Bullington, The Courier-Journal, "COVID-19 news roundup: Cases spike, but Beshear stays the course on reopening economy," 5 May 2020 Instead of falling, cases in Alabama have plateaued. al, "Why Alabama officials say they aren’t ready to reopen yet," 29 Apr. 2020 But in much of the rest of the country, cases have either plateaued or are still rising. Sara Chodosh, Popular Science, "See which states still have increasing rates of COVID-19," 18 May 2020 With some signs that the viral outbreak may have plateaued at least in certain areas of the country, a few governors have taken tentative steps to begin reopening their economies. Christopher Rugaber, The Christian Science Monitor, "US jobless claims reach 30 million, 1 in 6 unemployed," 30 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plateau.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of plateau


1743, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1939, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for plateau


French, from Middle French, platter, from plat flat

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Time Traveler for plateau

Time Traveler

The first known use of plateau was in 1743

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Statistics for plateau

Last Updated

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plateau.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for plateau



English Language Learners Definition of plateau

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a large flat area of land that is higher than other areas of land that surround it
: a period when something does not increase or advance any further



English Language Learners Definition of plateau (Entry 2 of 2)

: to stop growing or increasing : to reach a plateau


pla·​teau | \ pla-ˈtō How to pronounce plateau (audio) \
plural plateaus or plateaux\ -​ˈtōz \

Kids Definition of plateau

: a broad flat area of high land


pla·​teau | \ pla-ˈtō, ˈpla-ˌ How to pronounce plateau (audio) \
plural plateaus also plateaux\ -​ˈtōz, -​ˌtōz \

Medical Definition of plateau

: a relatively flat elevated area — see tibial plateau

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Comments on plateau

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