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)
also tableaus
: a graphic description or representation : picture
winsome tableaux of old-fashioned literary daysJ. D. Hart
: a striking or artistic grouping : arrangement, scene
[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

Examples of tableau in a Sentence

The houses are grouped together in a charming tableau.
Recent Examples on the Web Barrois crafted a tableau of the Pittsburgh Steelers playing the Washington Commanders (then called the Redskins) and brought it to school to show his professor, the sculptor John Scott. Julia Carmel Jessica Lehrman, New York Times, 28 Mar. 2024 On the coffee table, there was now a tableau of plates and glasses with untouched food that had lost colour and was cold and moldy, stirring with fly eggs and larvae. Hazlitt, 13 Mar. 2024 Unfortunately, the action stalls out somewhat after that as the story back-tracks and zooms out to contextualize the tableau. Jessica Liese, Variety, 14 Feb. 2024 Notably, the blurred figure embraced by Liu Lian on the EP cover hints at a symbolic embrace of her own multifaceted identity within this tableau. Billboard China, Billboard, 6 Mar. 2024 The opening tableau, sculptural in composition, brings to mind the war-scarred art of Käthe Kollwitz. Jennifer Homans, The New Yorker, 4 Mar. 2024 With its delicate erotic scenes, pervasive feeling of menace and occasional outbursts of violence — every single frame here is an exquisite tableau — this would make for a perfect Netflix series. Ernesto Lechner, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Feb. 2024 The video, just over a minute long, shows a group forming a loose circle around the victim, with at least one using a cellphone to illuminate the tableau. The Arizona Republic, 12 Jan. 2024 The fire, which killed at least 115 people, turned all that to a toxic, ashy tableau and scattered its caretakers. Karin Brulliard, Washington Post, 11 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tableau.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


tab·​leau ˈtab-ˌlō How to pronounce tableau (audio) ta-ˈblō How to pronounce tableau (audio)
plural tableaux -ˌlōz How to pronounce tableau (audio)
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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