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[ta-bloh, tab-loh] /tæˈbloʊ, ˈtæb loʊ/
noun, plural tableaux
[ta-blohz, tab-lohz] /tæˈbloʊz, ˈtæb loʊz/ (Show IPA),
a picture, as of a scene.
a picturesque grouping of persons or objects; a striking scene.
a representation of a picture, statue, scene, etc., by one or more persons suitably costumed and posed.
Solitaire. the portion of a layout to which one may add cards according to suit or denomination.
Origin of tableau
1690-1700; < French: board, picture, Middle French tablel, diminutive of table table Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tableau
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We all stood stock-still for a minute, like folks in a tableau.

    Cape Cod Stories Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Power behind the throne, what a tableau: Sumner and Lincoln!

  • All this was not so much like a succession of events as it was like a tableau.

    A Mortal Antipathy Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • Has existence only to unroll a tableau, every detail of which is graven on my heart?

    Gerald Fitzgerald Charles James Lever
  • I feel sure it would make a tableau at once impressive and—er—entertaining—in the best sense of the word.

    Brother Copas Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
British Dictionary definitions for tableau


noun (pl) -leaux (-ləʊ; -ləʊz), -leaus
a pause during or at the end of a scene on stage when all the performers briefly freeze in position
any dramatic group or scene
(logic) short for semantic tableau
Word Origin
C17: from French, from Old French tablel a picture, diminutive of table
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 tableau

1690s, "a picturesque or graphic description or picture," from French tableau "picture, painting," from Old French table "slab, writing tablet" (see table (n.)) + diminutive suffix -eau, from Latin -ellus. Hence tableau-vivant (1817) "person or persons silent and motionless, enacting a well-known scene, incident, painting, etc.," popular 19c. parlor game, literally "living picture."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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