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

Trails, accessible directly from Adler Lodge, are etched all over the plateau, and the property itself offers 30 rooms and chalets and suites and, most welcome of all, a full-service spa. Brigid Mander, WSJ, "5 Flat-Out Ideal Cross-Country Ski Getaways," 5 Dec. 2018 Vegetables come from the hotel’s organic farm on a plateau above Sutivan, herbs are harvested from the garden, and the seafood picked from the fishermen’s morning catch. Anja Mutic, New York Times, "On Croatia’s Coast, Stunning Pools and a Mediterranean Mood," 5 May 2018 Shane KeyserThe Kansas City Star Hitchens had 84 tackles in 12 games last season, the initial month of his season delayed because of a tibial plateau fracture in his right knee. Sam Mcdowell, kansascity, "Chiefs’ new LB considered Derrick Johnson an idol. Now he’s asked to replace him | The Kansas City Star," 16 Mar. 2018 Tottenham appears to have hit a plateau under manager Mauricio Pochettino. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "Manchester City Solves the Liverpool Puzzle," 8 Oct. 2018 Neither of the two teams the Yankees defeated on their road to the World Series in 1998—the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians—even hit the 90-win plateau. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "Boston Red Sox: Greatest Season of All Time?," 29 Oct. 2018 One study notes that, after 2–3 years in a monogamous relationship, men’s libidos plateau while women’s take a sharp decline. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "The "Wonderful Weirdness" of Female Sexuality," 23 Oct. 2018 Just 16 stone tools turned up, spread across six layers of loess, deposited in colder, drier, windier times when the plateau would have been a steppe grassland with less ample grazing and much colder winters. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Hominins lived in China 2.1 million years ago," 11 July 2018 Some years, snowdrifts are 40 feet deep along the windy plateau and must be painstakingly cleared, said Ken Hembree, maintenance superintendent for the Montana Department of Transportation in Billings. John Nelson,, "Beartooth Highway is fearsome fun, whether you're driving it or skiing it," 18 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Now, that didn’t work, which is really interesting, that e-book sales have plateaued. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why Amazon is a ‘bully,’ and Facebook and Google are ‘the enemies of independent thought’," 3 Dec. 2018 Building a brand that speaks to a changing market Design often plateaus once the platonic ideal of a product becomes established—like mobile phones have all become slight variations on slim glass rectangles. Diana Budds, Curbed, "The rise of the direct-to-consumer home," 21 Dec. 2018 After plateauing in 2017, China’s debt-to-GDP ratio jumped to 261% in early 2018 according to the Bank for International Settlements. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "The China 2025 Bugaboo," 13 Dec. 2018 Yet living donors make up a fraction of transplants, and their numbers have plateaued amid barriers that can block otherwise willing people from giving. Fox News, "Doctors explore lifting barriers to living organ donation," 10 Sep. 2018 The world of infantry small arms has plateaued since World War II with only incremental increases in accuracy and reliability. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Army's Next Rifle Could Have Four Barrels That Can Shoot All at Once," 1 Oct. 2018 In its annual New Energy Outlook, BNEF sees CCGTs plateauing around 2030 as renewables eat into midload and then baseload. David Roberts, Vox, "Clean energy is catching up to natural gas," 8 Aug. 2018 Also scary: Facebook user growth has plateaued in the U.S. and Canada, its most valuable market. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "How far will Facebook fall today?," 26 July 2018 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

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

21 Jan 2019

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).


a complex dispute or argument

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