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 Many oil firms still say that production will creep up over the next decade, to slightly above today’s level of 95m barrels per day (b/d), and then plateau. The Economist, "The message from the world’s biggest and wildest IPO," 31 Oct. 2019 In the Patriots’ win Monday, Julian Edelman led Patriots receivers with seven catches for 59 yards as Brady failed to reach the 300-yard plateau while throwing for just one touchdown. Boston Herald Staff, The Denver Post, "Patriots acquire Mohamed Sanu from Falcons, per report," 22 Oct. 2019 Wimberger also noted that the average life span of a vehicle is 12 years, so if ZEV sales plateau now, future generations will feel the effects. Maxine Joselow, Scientific American, "Rollback of California Car Rules Will Cause Emissions to Spike," 21 Oct. 2019 Placekicker Andy Rodriguez scored nine points, all PATs, raising his season total to 20 points, becoming the sixth district placekicker this season to reach the 20 points plateau. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "Trojans shatter two PISD scoring records in 73-15 rout of Rayburn," 11 Oct. 2019 Previous ranking: 3 This week: Beat Texas Tech 55–16 Next week: at Kansas Oklahoma reached the 900-win plateau in its storied history and eighth consecutive victory over Texas Tech with another dominant performance from Jalen Hurts. Scooby Axson,, "Week 5 Power Rankings: Who's Emerging as a Top Contender in Each Conference?," 30 Sep. 2019 The seamount rises 3 kilometers from the ocean floor and is topped by a plateau 50 kilometers wide, 1 kilometer below the sea surface. Warren Cornwall, Science | AAAS, "Mountains hidden in the deep sea are biological hot spots. Will mining ruin them?," 12 Sep. 2019 Vikram will attempt to land in a currently unnamed plateau nestled between the Manzinus C and Simpelius N craters near the moon’s South Pole. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "India Loses Contact With Lander On Final Descent," 6 Sep. 2019 The Grand Canyon tried to round up some animals last year, but wintry weather set in and the bison headed farther north on a plateau. Felicia Fonseca,, "Grand Canyon to make second run at corralling bison herd," 2 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Yet with car demand plateauing it’s unlikely to get anywhere near that. Chris Bryant | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Renault Has Two Boardroom Coups in One Year," 11 Oct. 2019 Job gains have cooled off, and wage growth seems to have plateaued., "Fed chair Powell says balance sheet will grow ‘soon’ after recent market turmoil - The Boston Globe," 9 Oct. 2019 High-speed rail projects have plateaued in many nations as governments balk at their high costs. Wired, "Speed Is Killing the Planet. Time to Focus on Efficiency," 24 Sep. 2019 Oil production has plateaued at an average level of 12.37 million barrels a day since recovering from the impact of Hurricane Barry at the end of July. Fortune, "Saudi Arabia Has Few Options to Replace the Massive Drop in Oil Output From Its Attacked Plant," 17 Sep. 2019 The Eagles’ program seems to have plateaued at a series of seven-win seasons, and losing to Kansas doesn’t bode well for an argument that this year might be an uptick for Steve Addazio’s team. Joan Niesen,, "Winners and Losers of Week 3 of the College Football Season," 15 Sep. 2019 But Buttigieg's campaign said that Labor Day marked a turning point for the mayor, who has plateaued in national polls in recent months. Fox News, "Buttigieg focus on mental health resonating in New Hampshire," 4 Sep. 2019 Last summer Raptors president Masai Ujiri believed his team had plateaued and needed a shakeup. Chris Mannix,, "Kyle Lowry’s Improbable NBA Journey: From Mr. Stubborn to Mr. Raptor," 25 June 2019 This is mostly because men’s earning has plateaued over this period, while women’s earning continues to rise. Dan Kopf, Quartz, "New US Census data shows smallest ever pay gap between working men and women," 12 Sep. 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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Statistics for plateau

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for plateau

The first known use of plateau was in 1743

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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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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 engage in dissolute behavior

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