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

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

Notre Dame increased the lead to 30 points, 73-43, after three quarters and McGraw cleared her bench in the final quarter and still reached the 90-point plateau for the 10th time in their current winning streak. John Fineran, The Seattle Times, "Ogunbowale and Young show way as Irish rout MSU, 91-63," 25 Mar. 2019 Then the process moves on to an intermediate noise level plateau, when the valve is being fully opened. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Using Physics To Build a Quieter Airplane Toilet," 5 Apr. 2019 Like many buyers on the plateau, the Paulys bought their home furnished—including everything in the refrigerator—and even bought the former owners’ car. Beth Decarbo, WSJ, "Vacation Homes That Feel Like Summer Camp," 14 Feb. 2019 The plateau’s amber bricks stand amid vast gardens of green and pillars of stone. Cian Maheer, Washington Post, "From Ancestor Glade to Hyrule Castle, these are the eight wonders of the virtual world," 4 June 2019 While former Vice President Joe Biden (D., Del.) enjoyed an exceptional increase in support following his latest presidential campaign announcement on April 25th, more recent polls suggest a popularity plateau. James Freeman, WSJ, "Has Biden Peaked?," 31 May 2019 Wochit, Wochit Excitement is brewing for lottery hopefuls as the Mega Millions jackpot climbs over the $500 million plateau for the first time since Oct. 23, 2018. Chris Sims, Indianapolis Star, "Here's everything you need to know about the $530M Mega Millions lottery drawing," 24 May 2019 The population of the tiny Texan town, which sits high on a Chihuahua Desert plateau, hovers around 2,000. Vogue, "Online Ceramics Tees, Cowboy Hats, and Marbled Tie-Dye: The Best Street Style From Marfa Myths," 16 May 2019 Vignon clearly relishes being at the center of the storm, with reporters now beating a path to the Vercors plateau in southeastern France where the portly priest ministers. John Leicester, Fox News, "In France, rebel priest takes on church bosses on sex abuse," 6 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Since then, however, O'Rourke's candidacy has plateaued, amid questions about whether the former Texas congressman lacks detailed policy proposals on key issues. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "The winners and losers from 2 nights of sparring at the Democratic debates in Miami," 28 June 2019 At the prevailing rate of college attendance, which has plateaued at 65% in the past decade, that means 450,000 fewer U.S. college applicants. Allen C. Guelzo, WSJ, "America’s Disappearing Private Colleges," 21 Feb. 2019 The site plateaued its growth in 2016 at just 23 million users, fewer than half that of Twitter at the time and a third that of Instagram, which has since grown exponentially. Aja Romano, Vox, "Tumblr’s adult content ban is already harming the site’s vibrant community.," 5 Dec. 2018 The iPhone maker cited slowing economic growth in China as a main culprit for the move, which came amid longstanding investor fears that plateauing revenue from the company’s flagship product could hurt shares. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Overlap of Tech Earnings, Trade Talks, Fed Meeting Will Test Stocks," 27 Jan. 2019 New data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association suggests opioid addiction rates are finally plateauing. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Opioid addiction is plateauing. But the crisis isn’t over.," 23 July 2018 As sales plateaued in the middle of the decade, Hasbro tried to add life to the franchise by giving Joe an adversary. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "Yo, Joe: How a 12-Inch Soldier Doll Became a Toy Legend," 9 Apr. 2019 Meanwhile, a gauge of U.S. home-builder confidence plateaued in September after declining for much of 2018. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "U.S. New-Home Sales Bounced Back in August," 26 Sep. 2018 Ditto Japan, where early progress under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has plateaued. Andrew Peaple, WSJ, "Investors in Asia Need All the Help They Can Get," 5 Dec. 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

8 Jul 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 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

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


to form ideas or theories about something

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