pla·​teau | \pla-ˈtō, ˈpla-ˌtō\
plural plateaus also plateaux\ pla-​ˈtōz , 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

altiplano, mesa, table, tableland

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Examples of plateau in a Sentence


a plateau covering hundreds of miles The price of gas seems to have reached a plateau.


Sales of computers have plateaued in recent years.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Photo: Michael Sohn/Associated Press A broader problem is that the wider industry looks at best to have hit a plateau. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "VW’s Resurgence Faces Old Auto Industry Realities," 18 Apr. 2018 Jay Olshansky, a bio-demographer at the University of Illinois at Chicago, however, tells Dolgin that an endless plateau doesn’t make sense. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Study Suggests There’s No Limit on Longevity, But Getting Super Old Is Still Tough," 29 June 2018 Later this year, Alphabet will roll out Google Duplex, a new technology that raises the concept of robocalling to an impressive — and slightly creepy — new plateau. Hiawatha Bray,, "Google may soon give you your own robo-calling assistant," 10 May 2018 The first commission in 2008 took me to the Tibetan plateau with artist Maureen Drdak in a season which paired composers and visual artists. Peter Dobrin,, "Network for New Music's Linda Reichert stepping down, honored with nine new pieces," 19 Apr. 2018 The closest airport, in Kangding, is an 11-hour drive away, along roads that pass through the mountains that rise to the Tibetan plateau. Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, "A Dance for Tibetan New Year, Then 17 Hours in Custody," 18 Feb. 2018 In a January interview with GQ, ASAP Ferg talked about hip-hop’s emergence as pop’s lingua franca and the genre’s musical plateau. Leor Galil, Chicago Reader, "ASAP Ferg shows he’s the real boss in ASAP Mob," 5 July 2018 My goal is not to get to training camp and plateau. Indianapolis Star, "Andrew Luck is throwing. Oddsmakers and analysts aren't buying it.," 28 June 2018 The plateau may occur because frailer people gradually die off, leaving only the toughest alive. Mitch Leslie, Science | AAAS, "Once you hit this age, aging appears to stop," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The United States’ record production has plateaued for now, in part because of pipeline bottlenecks in West Texas’ booming Permian Basin. Rye Druzin, San Antonio Express-News, "U.S. rig count up by 5," 6 July 2018 The United States' record production has plateaued for now, in part because of pipeline bottlenecks in West Texas' booming Permian Basin. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "U.S. crude stocks unexpectedly rise," 5 July 2018 Formed after Thee Midniters plateaued as a band, God's Children was born out of Garcia's alienation with the music business. Randall Roberts,, "With a new reissue, 1970's Chicano rock band God's Children brings Thee Midniters' history back into focus," 15 May 2018 Geely sales were lukewarm in China until very recently, plateauing at 500,000 cars a year or less. William Boston, WSJ, "How China’s Geely Turned a Disassembled Mercedes Into a Global Car Company," 4 Mar. 2018 Meanwhile, evenings spent with friends have basically plateaued, or even fallen. Lyman Stone, Vox, "The myth of the job-hopping, rootless millennial is just that — a myth," 11 July 2018 The 2016 paper in Nature found that the maximum reported age of death increased until the mid-1990s, then plateaued. Meghana Keshavan, STAT, "The age plateau: New study suggests, at certain age, risk of death no longer increases," 28 June 2018 Morningstar’s Hottovy thinks that the market for new members may be plateauing, and that Amazon is now focused on increasing what current Prime users spend rather than recruiting new ones. Beth Kowitt, Fortune, "How Amazon Is Using Whole Foods in a Bid for Total Retail Domination," 21 May 2018 After plateauing over the last two months of 2017, the index has been inching up steadily this year and stands at a record high of 51.35 on a 100-point scale. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Mueller Risk Index gauges danger to markets of the Trump-linked Russia probe," 28 Feb. 2018

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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Statistics for plateau

Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for plateau

The first known use of plateau was in 1743

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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 \
plural plateaus or plateaux\ -​ˈtōz \

Kids Definition of plateau

: a broad flat area of high land


pla·​teau | \pla-ˈtō, ˈpla-ˌ \
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

What made you want to look up plateau? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


noxious or harmful

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