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

As Alex Horton of the Washington Post explains, Nikumaroro is a plateau that rises above sea level with a 10,000-foot slope plummeting down to the ocean floor. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Why the Much-Publicized Mission to Find Amelia Earhart’s Plane Is Likely to Come Up Empty," 1 Aug. 2019 As their workforces shrink, many of our democratic peers will see their remaining workers’ productivity plateau with age. George P. Shultz And Pedro Aspe, WSJ, "Make Central America Great Again," 10 July 2019 His career record was 28-38, but in this offensively charged season, his 4.29 ERA ranked firmly above the league-average plateau. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "A decade after Nick Adenhart, death of Angels' Tyler Skaggs a tragic reminder of grief's permanence," 1 July 2019 When the team visited earlier this decade, most of the plateau's surface had been lost to mining, Farley says. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "Dinosaur-age landscapes lurk in Southern Hemisphere," 26 June 2019 Kovacs says that one reason for the plateau is that Isner and Karlovic have been playing for a long time, and up-and-coming players have yet to contend with their records. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, "How Elite Tennis Players Crank Out Serves at 150 MPH," 12 July 2019 But competition has begun to plateau in recent quarters as card issuers focus more on profitability and retaining existing customers., "State DPU approves contracts with Hydro-Quebec," 26 June 2019 Many analysts expect spending to plateau after that, but given the global frictions, that is no certainty. The Economist, "The UTC-Raytheon deal highlights the changing nature of war," 14 June 2019 Rock Creek Headwall falls 1,800 vertical feet from the plateau to a highway switchback below. John Nelson,, "Beartooth Highway is fearsome fun, whether you're driving it or skiing it," 18 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Domestic profits, and the worldwide profits of American firms, peaked relative to GDP in 2012, and have plateaued since then. The Economist, "After years of plenty America Inc is struggling to crank out more earnings," 18 July 2019 Vietnam’s share of the US soccer market rose sharply from 2011 to 2018, while Pakistan’s has plateaued and China’s has declined. Dan Kopf, Quartz, "The US gets nearly all of its soccer balls from China. But the goal posts are moving," 27 June 2019 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

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

5 Aug 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 shake or wave menacingly

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