tableau

noun

tab·​leau ˈta-ˌblō How to pronounce tableau (audio) ta-ˈblō How to pronounce tableau (audio)
plural tableaux ˈta-ˌblōz How to pronounce tableau (audio)
ta-ˈblōz
also tableaus
1
: a graphic description or representation : picture
winsome tableaux of old-fashioned literary days J. D. Hart
2
: a striking or artistic grouping : arrangement, scene
3
[short for tableau vivant (from French, literally, living picture)] : a depiction of a scene usually presented on a stage by silent and motionless costumed participants

Example Sentences

The houses are grouped together in a charming tableau.
Recent Examples on the Web Yuki Nakase Link makes several clever lighting choices, illuminating Cheatom in moonlight at the end of Act 1 before framing the cast in a striking Act 2 tableau. Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, 24 June 2022 The final tableau is entrancing and haunting: as Aida and Radamès die in isolation, Mariette and the rest of the motley company from the villa come back into view, staring into historical oblivion. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 13 June 2022 Even the sea gulls, whose cawing and mewling were so much a part of the commotion of the Bosporus, fell in line with this solemn tableau. New York Times, 12 May 2022 The rooftop bar, singular in Reykjavik, overlooks this majestic tableau. Travel + Leisure, 12 Apr. 2022 This tableau was about 100 yards from a playground with swings and slides, nestled beneath a woodsy shade. Patrick J. Mcdonnell, Anchorage Daily News, 6 Apr. 2022 This tableau was about 100 yards from a playground with swings and slides, nestled beneath a woodsy shade. Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2022 The town, once a typical Ukrainian tableau of prim, single-story homes, with gardens in the back and cows lazing in open fields, was in a state of disorder. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 27 Oct. 2022 The streets of Kyiv once again were a tableau of destruction not seen since the early days of the war. Cora Engelbrecht, BostonGlobe.com, 10 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tableau.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

French, from Middle French tablel, diminutive of table, from Old French

First Known Use

1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tableau was in 1660

Dictionary Entries Near tableau

Cite this Entry

“Tableau.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tableau. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

tableau

noun

tab·​leau ˈtab-ˌlō How to pronounce tableau (audio) ta-ˈblō How to pronounce tableau (audio)
plural tableaux -ˌlōz How to pronounce tableau (audio)
-blōz
also tableaus
: a scene or event shown by a group of persons in costume who remain silent and motionless

More from Merriam-Webster on tableau

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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