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 At times, the movie is somewhat on the nose, its psychological associations fairly blunt—and, at those times, Sachs’s tableau-like direction seems more to spotlight his intentions than the action. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Frankie” and the Performance of Life in the Face of Death," 25 Oct. 2019 The backdrop is the city’s tableau of futuristic skyscrapers, giving the TV cameras a chance to capture some cool looking scenery despite the stifling heat. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Hot pursuit: Athletes chase world medals in sweltering Qatar," 26 Sep. 2019 The backdrop is the city’s tableau of futuristic skyscrapers, giving the TV cameras a chance to capture some cool looking scenery despite the stifling heat. Eddie Pells, The Denver Post, "Marathons at midnight: Athletes chase world medals in sweltering Qatar," 26 Sep. 2019 In recent years, Platt was known for earthy tableaux, often featuring Australian aboriginal women and printed on a fabric. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: ‘Habitats’ at Target Gallery showcases the nature of creativity," 6 Sep. 2019 In Georgiou’s photographs, these celebrations remain outside the frame; his lens stays trained, instead, on the sidelines, and on the spontaneous tableaux assembled there. David Campany, The Atlantic, "Watching Americans Watch Parades," 9 Nov. 2019 Foh creates a few vivid, formal tableaux amid the purposeful chaos, and these moments help ground the play with simple truths. Christopher Arnott,, "Review: CT Rep gives worldly 'Wolves’ another victory," 28 Oct. 2019 The pastoral tableau has become more common in yards across the city as sustainability-minded residents capitalize on Chicago’s live-and-let-live approach to urban farming. Alexia Elejalde-ruiz,, "Proposal to ban backyard roosters and restrict hens has ruffled the feathers of Chicago’s pro-chicken community," 14 Oct. 2019 Yet, the humor also introduces an essential element of fun into the bedroom tableau. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Sarah Lucas show at the Hammer Museum is naked but definitely not afraid," 17 July 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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Time Traveler for tableau

Time Traveler

The first known use of tableau was in 1660

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Statistics for tableau

Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Tableau.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 15 December 2019.

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More Definitions for tableau


How to pronounce tableau (audio) How to pronounce tableau (audio)

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

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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).


delight or enjoyment

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