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 The number of new cases has started to plateau after six straight weeks of decline. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, "Another Covid-19 surge hangs in the balance. This is how experts say we keep it from becoming reality," 26 Feb. 2021 The seven-day average of new infections has slowed since last Tuesday, and hospitalizations have started to plateau, according to Washington Post tracking. Fenit Nirappil, Star Tribune, "Another coronavirus variant linked to growing share of cases, several large outbreaks, in California," 18 Jan. 2021 On Monday, DeWine said the state possibly has hit a plateau in this third wave. cleveland, "Gov. Mike DeWine to give briefing for Thursday, Dec. 17: Watch live," 17 Dec. 2020 Only one player in history has ever reached the 70 percent plateau and not crossed the 75 percent barrier (Jim Bunning, who was later enshrined by the Veterans Committee). Dan Shaughnessy,, "Curt Schilling falls short of Baseball Hall of Fame induction, and that’s a good thing," 26 Jan. 2021 Cases have leveled off somewhat since then in the Bay Area, with health officials calling the plateau a hopeful sign. Chase Difeliciantonio,, "California shed 52,000 jobs last month as virus cases surged," 22 Jan. 2021 Or how snowfall on the Tibetan plateau affects Canadian winters? New York Times, "Climbing the Himalaya With Soldiers, Spies, Lamas and Mountaineers," 5 Jan. 2021 The Titans' Derrick Henry needs to average 156 rushing yards over the final three games to become the eighth player to hit the 2,000-yard plateau. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Several NFL records are in danger of falling in 2020 – Justin Herbert and Travis Kelce are poised to set a few," 17 Dec. 2020 The monolith in Romania appeared on the plateau of Batca Domnei, according to Romanian news outlet Ziar Piatra Neamt. James Rogers, Fox News, "Mysterious monolith 'disappears' from Romanian hillside," 2 Dec. 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

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plateau.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 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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