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 If cases continue to plateau or even increase, Health Officer Matt Willis said the county will promote testing even more. Mallory Moench, San Francisco Chronicle, "How long will we need COVID testing? S.F. approved a contract for another year," 31 Mar. 2021 Hospitalizations and deaths, which usually lag cases by a few weeks, have inched upward as well, after a decline and plateau that began in early January. Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY, "Majority of Americans intend to get vaccinated; all 50 states announce when they plan to open vaccine eligibility: Live COVID-19 updates," 31 Mar. 2021 Those migrants likely followed a coastal route, Hünemeier says, then split off into the central plateau and Amazon sometime between 15,000 and 8000 years ago. Michael Price, Science | AAAS, "Earliest South American migrants had Australian, Melanesian ancestry," 29 Mar. 2021 After weeks of declines and then a plateau, the average number of new Covid-19 cases saw a 7% increase from the previous week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Friday. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "Some US states report concerning Covid-19 case increases -- and one warns the surge is already here," 29 Mar. 2021 Since then, daily COVID-19 caseloads and hospitalizations have slowly inched upward, following weeks of declines and then a plateau. Christine Condon,, "Maryland snaps streak of reporting 1,000+ COVID-19 cases, but hospitalizations continue climb," 22 Mar. 2021 The upper plateau and vista terraces will have a winding pathway with seating, exercise and picnic areas, a playground, native and interpretive gardens and a prominent veterans memorial art element. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Bike courses included with Carlsbad’s Veterans Memorial Park plan," 28 Feb. 2021 The number of patients with suspected or known COVID-19 in intensive care units across Arizona was at 122 on Wednesday, continuing an almost two week-long plateau at that level. Alison Steinbach, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona adds 705 new COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths as hospitals report uptick in patients," 1 Oct. 2020 Global oil demand will plateau just below normal levels following a record pace of recovery in recent months, research group IHS Markit projected Tuesday. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: Southeast utilities’ climate goals could be costly without organized power market," 25 Aug. 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

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Plateau.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 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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Comments on plateau

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