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

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 angst in Venice is part of a widening tableau of fear, anger and tragedy that has become an everyday consequence of homelessness across Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times, "24 fires a day: Surge in flames at L.A. homeless encampments a growing crisis," 12 May 2021 The Underground Railroad, the Oscar-winning Moonlight director will pause the story to present a tableau of his huge cast of black characters. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, "‘The Underground Railroad’: Barry Jenkins’ Gorgeous Journey Into American Darkness," 10 May 2021 For the crafting of every tableau, within the studios, a set is designed, constructed, and, after use, destroyed. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Small Worlds of “About Endlessness”," 30 Apr. 2021 Shot in crisp black and white, the performance captured Maxwell walking around New York City, reveling in his hometown’s tableau while delighting in his lyrics’ expression of love., "Maxwell’s slow-burning debut still simmers after 25 years," 1 Apr. 2021 Specificity in storytelling Raya and the Last Dragon offers a tableau of cultural references inspired by the whole of Southeast Asia. Kat Moon, Time, "Raya and the Last Dragon," 6 Mar. 2021 Per Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times, its 38 figures tell the story of a reluctant soldier who returns home a hero—a tableau that reflects the nation’s turn from isolationism to a position of global leadership. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, "How D.C.’s Newly Unveiled WWI Memorial Commemorates the Global Conflict," 20 Apr. 2021 Each piece is, in its way, a tableau come to fluid life, with drama to spare. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Arts & Culture Newsletter: Embracing choreographer Kyle Abraham’s contemplative ‘When We Fell’," 15 Apr. 2021 Another journey across a tableau of pain and renewal is about to begin. Washington Post, "All aboard Bus 70: Traveling a local Libyan route from war to hope and renewal," 31 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for tableau

Time Traveler

The first known use of tableau was in 1660

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Statistics for tableau

Last Updated

17 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tableau.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tableau

Nglish: Translation of tableau for Spanish Speakers

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