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

Fisher's all-around contributions also led Williamsburg to the 20-win plateau. Shelby Dermer,, "Who's among the 2019 All-Enquirer Ohio preseason volleyball team?," 14 Aug. 2019 Guided by a farmer, a cow reaches the pass after climbing the narrow trail from Adelboden to the high plateau at Engstligenalp for summer grazing. Brian Blackstone, WSJ, "Should Cows Have Horns? Switzerland Will Decide," 23 Nov. 2018 The few other bones in the cave came from various bovid species, a fox, and even some baboons (which forage in the high grasslands of the Ethiopian plateau and sleep on cliffside ledges). Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "The first people to live at high elevations snacked on giant mole rats," 9 Aug. 2019 The credit looks a bit like a trapezoid: an upward-sloping line on the left, a plateau in the middle, and then a downward-sloping line on the right. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Parenting can be a full-time job. Activists want the tax code to treat it that way.," 15 July 2019 And to the subcontinent’s north sits the Tibetan plateau, the highest on the planet. The Economist, "The South Asian monsoon, past, present and future," 27 June 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 But her numbers have since plateaued, placing her in fourth place in most polls. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Kamala Harris draws upon background in unveiling criminal justice plan," 9 Sep. 2019 Just when the video's popularity seems to have plateaued, Pinkfong parent company SmartStudy and Nickelodeon have announced that Baby Shark has its sights set on your television next, with a brand-new Baby Shark TV series. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "A 'Baby Shark' TV Show Is Coming to Nickelodeon Soon," 5 June 2019 What’s unknown is why Facebook has finally plateaued. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Facebook’s user growth has hit a wall," 25 July 2018 Analysts say the battle royale market has plateaued, and viewership numbers on streaming sites like Twitch are settling. Jason M. Bailey, New York Times, "Fortnite Drew Imitators to Survival Games. Who Will Be the Last One Standing?," 30 July 2019 Another sign that activity in the booming Permian Basin has at least plateaued for now, the prolific basin in West Texas lost six active drilling rigs last week. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "West Texas' Permian leads rig count drop," 12 July 2019 However, district scores on standardized tests plateaued and then began to decline in some areas in recent years, causing a group of parents to ask for more resources in the classroom and less spending on central office positions. Steven Goode,, "Bloomfield Superintendent of Schools James Thompson will be named to top state education post, sources say," 10 July 2019 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

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

2 Sep 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 spread over or through

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