pla·​teau | \ pla-ˈtō How to pronounce plateau (audio) , ˈpla-ˌtō \
plural plateaus also plateaux\ pla-​ˈtōz How to pronounce plateaux (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 However, Yellowstone is a high plateau where elk cannot survive through snowy winters. Ben Long, Outdoor Life, "Can the National Elk Refuge Survive CWD?," 29 Jan. 2020 The Bucks, with the NBA's best record and threatening a win total that not even Kobe's Lakers ever achieved — the 70-win plateau — seem in a position to do that this year. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A look at Kobe Bryant's history with Giannis, Arike and the Milwaukee Bucks," 27 Jan. 2020 Projections from energy companies show demand for oil could peak and fall in the coming decades; some outside analyses suggest demand for oil could plateau as soon as 2025. Justin Worland, Time, "The Reason Fossil Fuel Companies Are Finally Reckoning With Climate Change," 16 Jan. 2020 The number of migrants taken into custody along the U.S.-Mexico border has started to plateau after several straight months of decline, according to border enforcement statistics released Thursday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Washington Post, "Border crossings start to plateau as U.S. officials report continued decline in immigration apprehensions," 9 Jan. 2020 La Paz, a city of more than 1 million people, lies at the bottom of a deep canyon in the Andean altiplano, or plateau. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, "Protesters cut off Bolivia's capital with renewed fury over deaths," 22 Nov. 2019 Google searches of Minshew’s name spiked dramatically last Thursday night and have yet to plateau. Charlotte Wilder,, "The Magic of Gardner Minshew," 25 Sep. 2019 Perched on the ochre scrub of Argentina’s sunbaked Puna Jujeña plateau, the $400 million Cauchari power station is the world’s highest-altitude solar farm at 13,000 ft (about 4,000 meters) above sea level. Charlie Campbell / Shanghai, Time, "China Is Bankrolling Green Energy Projects Around the World," 1 Nov. 2019 Even if an oil major’s leadership has taken the view that oil demand is nearing a plateau, that doesn’t mean oil-price cycles are dead. Washington Post, "Big Oil’s Big Issue With Embracing ‘Big Energy’," 20 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Yet after years of dramatic growth, Japan’s tourism numbers plateaued from 2018 to 2019. Dan Kopf, Quartz, "The Japan tourism explosion stalled in 2019 because of a spat with South Korea," 9 Feb. 2020 After a sustained period of growth between 2011 and 2015, the number of Nigerian visitors to the US started to plateau in 2016 until the big drop-off last year. Dan Kopf, Quartz Africa, "Nigeria had the biggest drop in visitors to the US last year as Trump’s visa policies took hold," 2 Jan. 2020 But with his support seeming to have plateaued, Buttigieg may be looking to shake things up. Mike Hofman, Fortune, "Democratic Debate: How to Watch, Start Time—and 8 Key Things to Watch for During It," 15 Oct. 2019 After decades of increases, life expectancy in the United States plateaued after 2010, then began to fall in 2014 and had been declining since, with some experts pointing to drug overdose deaths and suicides as drivers of the downturn. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, "US life expectancy climbs for the first time in 4 years as drug overdose and cancer deaths decline," 30 Jan. 2020 Miraculously, however, despite the rapid onset of symptoms, Rosenbaum’s condition plateaued, which meant the likelihood of the situation getting worse was slim. Aili Nahas,, "J.P. Rosenbaum Reveals the Hardest Part of His Health Crisis: 'I Can't Even Pick Up My Kids'," 23 Dec. 2019 Its goal is to make it as as easy as possible for everyone to contribute, as cash donations have plateaued in recent years. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "Salvation Army to debut cashless "Kettle Pay" donation option," 15 Nov. 2019 The efforts to streamline the campaign come as Harris has fallen in polling in the Democratic contest and plateaued in fundraising. Tal Kopan,, "Kamala Harris’ struggling campaign cuts staff, overhauls strategy," 30 Oct. 2019 But since 2017, mobile’s share of traffic has slowed or plateaued in nearly every region of the world. Dan Kopf, Quartz, "Nearly 80% of porn is now watched on mobile," 20 Dec. 2019

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

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Plateau.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for plateau


How to pronounce plateau (audio)

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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