Definition of plateau in English:



  • 1An area of fairly level high ground.

    • ‘The topography includes vast desert expanses, high plateaus, rolling foothills and valleys, and immense mountain ranges.’
    • ‘As a result, the area of the plateau outside the existing reserves was given the less restrictive tenure of conservation area.’
    • ‘They compare closely with oceanic flood basalts that make up many oceanic ridges, plateaux, and sea mounts.’
    • ‘Terrain types noted so far include rocky and sandy plains, mountains, craters, plateaus and canyons.’
    • ‘The plateau complex rises toward the southeast, where it climaxes in the Drakensberg range, part of an escarpment that separates the plateau from the coastal areas.’
    • ‘This soil region is in the foothills of the Appalachian plateau, and topography ranges from nearly level to extremely steep.’
    • ‘Mammals, apart from the savanna fox, live mostly in the forested areas of the plateau or down in the gorge.’
    • ‘We had mountains, valleys, plateaus, deserts, waterfalls, rivers, and streams.’
    • ‘Titan's dunes bend around hills and upland plateaus, revealing how Titan's wind interacts with the topography.’
    • ‘Lowlands, plateaux, foothills, and mountain slopes suitable for viticulture occupy only seven per cent of Tajikistan's area.’
    • ‘The southern half of the Republic of Guatemala mainly consists of beautiful mountain highlands and plateaus, which are susceptible to devastating earthquakes.’
    • ‘In what amounted to the ultimate consumer perk, we were driven to the top of the mountain plateau to begin our backcountry ski tour.’
    • ‘Artists were also adorning rocks along rivers, on plateaux, on mountainsides, and so on.’
    • ‘These are scattered tribes who live in remote plateaus and mountainous areas.’
    • ‘The Khmer Loeu hill tribes live in remote highland areas in the plateaus and mountainous areas on the edges of Cambodia.’
    • ‘It seemed like they were on different level plateaus from each other, and that connection that used to bridge and support them seemed strained.’
    • ‘The upland plateau known as the sierra represents about one-fourth of Peru's land and holds a majority of the country's population.’
    • ‘The Massif Central is a large mountainous plateau in the central area, which includes the ancient volcanoes of the Auvergne region.’
    • ‘The plateau consists of extensive areas of barren rock, or hills with a thin cover of drought-resistant vegetation.’
    • ‘These are important, not to find fish so much as underwater islands and plateaux in deeper areas just off shore.’
    upland, tableland, elevated plain, mesa, highland, table
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    1. 1.1as modifier Denoting a group of North American peoples of the high plains of western Canada and the US, including the Nez Percé.
  • 2A state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.

    ‘the peace process had reached a plateau’
    • ‘With many analysts believing that the Irish property market has reached a plateau, many people are starting to look at eastern Europe for property investment opportunities.’
    • ‘There is no doubt that, at the beginning of our period, literacy was on the increase, though it soon reached a plateau (where it more or less remained until Unification).’
    • ‘In the last 10 years, however, we've hit a fairly level plateau.’
    • ‘But he reached a plateau at age 23 and had to quit.’
    • ‘General awareness of e-business has now reached a plateau.’
    • ‘She had been on an upward curve, but had suddenly reached a plateau in her performances, and her confidence took a battering.’
    • ‘They should have reached a plateau at which Irish lamb should be in position to compete on the export market.’
    • ‘Musically, Brown reached a plateau in the early 1970s when his band, the JBs, patented a muscular, jazzy funk, over which the group's leader could exhort and exclaim.’
    • ‘Two years ago, however, my fitness level hit a plateau.’
    • ‘Sure, dot-com advertising is down, the number of newbies hitting the Internet has reached a plateau, and personal computer sales have fallen.’
    • ‘Women's wellbeing reached a plateau between the ages of 30 and 64, while that of men dipped during the same period, according to the survey.’
    • ‘There is some feeling this year that the medium has reached a plateau, but that's not the case.’
    • ‘I had to dress up the presentation of that move in such a way as to protect the show, so I gave all kinds of reasons for the move, trying to disguise the fact that I was having to move it because it had reached a plateau and wasn't moving off.’
    • ‘However, by 1981 the firm realised that investment trusts had reached a plateau.’
    • ‘Not that it was any worse than countless other nights there, but maybe my brain has had its fill, maybe I've reached a plateau.’
    • ‘For the past 10 years before that, HIV and AIDS rates in Australia were going down, then they reached a plateau and now we've seen sharp rises.’
    • ‘I've reached a plateau where I'm waiting for the next struggle to rear its ugly head.’
    • ‘By Wednesday, the national spasm of bulk-buying reached a plateau.’
    • ‘At some point, I felt I had reached a plateau as an amateur photographer and needed to know more, so I took a photography class at the local community college.’
    • ‘Analysts say growth in the number of subscribers has reached a plateau and looks set to slow down, and this has cooled the share price.’
    level, stage
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  • Reach a state of little or no change after a period of activity or progress.

    ‘the industry's problems have plateaued out’
    • ‘‘I'll also use this if I feel I might be plateauing,’ Frank says.’
    • ‘The population is relatively flat, because the birth rates have plateaued.’
    • ‘Far from declining, HIV infections plateaued at 40,000 a year during 2002 and 2003; this year, documented HIV diagnoses actually rose.’
    • ‘He said: ‘Over the last 20 years the divorce rates have plateaued.’’
    • ‘The report shows the strain on federal finances starting at around 2008, pushing out to a deficit in 2018 and plateauing out at 2042.’
    • ‘One friend suggested to me that Manukau and Waitakere City are still very buoyant markets for property prices, but Auckland City is plateauing in the more expensive markets.’
    • ‘There is recent evidence that in the UK the high prevalence figures for asthma have plateaued, but this is not true of other allergic conditions like nut and latex allergy.’
    • ‘Technological progress with desktop computers and office software has plateaued in recent years, with little eye-opening innovation.’
    • ‘‘I've known people who thought they were plateauing when they were just losing half a pound a week,’ Nonas says.’
    • ‘His early success has plateaued and he will be looking to use tonight as a springboard into the pre-election period.’
    • ‘As your body begins to accommodate to the plan, providing new stimulation (in the form of supplements) every two weeks will help prevent you from plateauing and help you keep growing for a longer period of time.’
    • ‘But now the market has plateaued, the need to sell off-plan becomes even more pressurised.’
    • ‘The average teacher salary has basically plateaued in the last 30 years, just above $40,000.’
    • ‘I think they have plateaued - they are not making progress.’
    • ‘If you are having success with a certain phase, feel free to maintain it until you begin to notice that you are plateauing.’
    • ‘Ironically, however, its improved living standards and high domestic per capita income plateaued very rapidly into a high cost economy which penalized individual Japanese, first as consumers, then as savers.’
    • ‘In the US the rapid rise in infections plateaued, then fell significantly and remains steady at the rate of 40,000 new infections a year.’
    • ‘I take some comfort from the fact we have had a very significant increase in the last five or six years in key stage two results but we are plateauing so we need to act to deal with it.’
    • ‘These percentages have remained static over the last three years, indicating that off-farm employment has plateaued.’
    • ‘‘They are still a long way from plateauing,’ says Hahn.’


Late 18th century: from French, from Old French platel, diminutive of plat ‘level’.