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[pla-toh or, esp. British, plat-oh] /plæˈtoʊ or, esp. British, ˈplæt oʊ/
noun, plural plateaus, plateaux
[pla-tohz or, esp. British, plat-ohz] /plæˈtoʊz or, esp. British, ˈplæt oʊz/ (Show IPA)
a land area having a relatively level surface considerably raised above adjoining land on at least one side, and often cut by deep canyons.
a period or state of little or no growth or decline:
to reach a plateau in one's career.
Psychology. a period of little or no apparent progress in an individual's learning, marked by an inability to increase speed, reduce number of errors, etc., and indicated by a horizontal stretch in a learning curve or graph.
a flat stand, as for a centerpiece, sometimes extending the full length of a table.
verb (used without object), plateaued, plateauing.
to reach a state or level of little or no growth or decline, especially to stop increasing or progressing; remain at a stable level of achievement; level off:
After a period of uninterrupted growth, sales began to plateau.
verb (used with object), plateaued, plateauing.
to cause to remain at a stable level, especially to prevent from rising or progressing:
Rising inflation plateaued sales income.
1785-95; < French; Old French platel flat object, diminutive of plat plate1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for plateaus
  • Much of the south comprises rocky plateaus carved by glaciers.
  • Fortunately, there are two solid models that have already proven effective at cracking problems and pushing past plateaus.
  • Any slow starts or early plateaus will pull us off track.
  • Climate and geography vary from the freezing northern plateaus to the semi-tropical south.
  • Slot canyons are narrow corridors sliced into eroding plateaus by periodic bursts of rushing water.
  • Although the country is generally dry, there is enough moisture to produce heavy snow in the mountains and on the higher plateaus.
  • Backcountry travelers will find everything from lush, forested valleys to desolate, windswept plateaus.
  • These are alpine forest, high desert, tundra and plateaus studded with pinon-juniper.
  • Stay at one of the seven lodges in the park, with views of the expansive plateaus and canyons unfolding in many directions.
  • Trails include many chances to stop at plateaus overlooking the canyon.
British Dictionary definitions for plateaus


noun (pl) -eaus, -eaux (-əʊz)
a wide mainly level area of elevated land
a relatively long period of stability; levelling off: the rising prices reached a plateau
verb (intransitive)
to remain at a stable level for a relatively long period
Word Origin
C18: from French, from Old French platel something flat, from plat flat; see plate


a state of central Nigeria, formed in 1976 from part of Benue-Plateau State: tin mining. Capital: Jos. Pop: 3 178 712 (2006). Area: 30 913 sq km (11 936 sq miles)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for plateaus



1796, "elevated tract of relatively level land," from French plateau "table-land," from Old French platel (12c.) "flat piece of metal, wood, etc.," diminutive of plat "flat surface or thing," noun use of adjective plat "flat, stretched out" (12c.), perhaps from Vulgar Latin *plattus, from Greek platys "flat, wide, broad" (see plaice). Meaning "stage at which no progress is apparent" is attested from 1897, originally in psychology of learning. In reference to sexual stimulation from 1960.


1952, from plateau (n.). Related: Plateaued; plateauing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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plateaus in Science
An elevated, comparatively level expanse of land. Plateaus make up about 45 percent of the Earth's land surface.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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