tab·​leau | \ ˈta-ˌblō How to pronounce tableau (audio) , ta-ˈblō How to pronounce tableau (audio) \
plural tableaux\ ˈta-​ˌblōz How to pronounce tableaux (audio) , ta-​ˈblōz \ also tableaus

Definition of tableau

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

Examples of tableau in a Sentence

The houses are grouped together in a charming tableau.

Recent Examples on the Web

The final movement, a hunting song, more evoked a genteel tableau than a chase. Zoë Madonna,, "Boston Symphony Orchestra begins Tanglewood season in style," 7 July 2019 In typical whodunit fashion, the family is full of strange characters, big secrets, and tense relationships that make for a zany tableau. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "The first trailer for Rian Johnson’s Knives Out is a wild take on whodunits," 2 July 2019 The massive reunion made for a lovely tableau, but who exactly was at the gathering? Harper's Bazaar Staff, Harper's BAZAAR, "Every Royal Family Member on the Buckingham Palace Balcony for Trooping the Colour 2019," 8 June 2019 The tableau represented America’s past and future in space. Lee Roop |,, "Von Braun’s daughter: Space is great, but climate change urgent," 17 July 2019 The wrong mics were on, strange voices seemed to pipe in from the great beyond, and a hugely important question about gun violence was repeated, to no avail, as the whole tableau of candidates onstage looked confused. Washington Post, "NBC’s technical glitch was bad. But the debate’s overall chaos was far worse.," 27 June 2019 To the uninitiated, the tableau at the checkpoint looks out of control. Robert Draper, National Geographic, "Surrounded by chaos, Niger is a nation on the edge," 17 June 2019 While the dramatic tension of that silent tableau is not always maintained during the rest of the production, now at the Williamstown Theatre Festival under the direction of Whitney White, this is a play that gets under the skin. Don Aucoin,, "Captivity and injustice in ‘A Human Being, Of a Sort’," 5 July 2019 The glittery ladies, who were vying to become the first-ever Miss Dog Mom USA, would then end the dance number — pups by their side — in a tableau vivant. Rachel Syme, New York Times, "The Real Dog Moms of New York City," 14 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of tableau

1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tableau

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

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Statistics for tableau

Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tableau

The first known use of tableau was in 1660

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More Definitions for tableau



English Language Learners Definition of tableau

: a view or sight that looks like a picture
: a scene that typically shows an event in history or literature and that is created on a stage by a group of people who are dressed in costumes and who do not speak or move


tab·​leau | \ ˈta-ˌblō How to pronounce tableau (audio) \
plural tableaux also tableaus\ -​ˌlōz \

Kids Definition of tableau

: a scene or event shown by a group of persons who remain still and silent

More from Merriam-Webster on tableau

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tableau

Spanish Central: Translation of tableau

Nglish: Translation of tableau for Spanish Speakers

Comments on tableau

What made you want to look up tableau? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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