1690–1700; < French: board, picture, Middle French tablel, diminutive of table table (Source:

Late 17th century (in the sense ‘picture’, figuratively ‘picturesque description’): from French, literally ‘picture’, diminutive of table (see table). (Source:

Definitions of Tableau



  1. a picture, as of a scene.
  2. a picturesque grouping of persons or objects; a striking scene.
  3. a representation of a picture, statue, scene, etc., by one or more persons suitably costumed and posed.
  4. Solitaire. the portion of a layout to which one may add cards according to suit or denomination.
  5. See tableau vivant
  6. a pause during or at the end of a scene on stage when all the performers briefly freeze in position
  7. any dramatic group or scene
  8. logic short for semantic tableau



  1. A group of models or motionless figures representing a scene from a story or from history; a tableau vivant.



  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. : a depiction of a scene usually presented on a stage by silent and motionless costumed participants

Example sentences for Tableau

  1. A first-rank boulevardier in the 1960s tableau, his wives included one Rita Hayworth.
  2. Now those are destroyed, too, and the animals are strewn about, bloating and stinking, as if in a tableau of “Guernica.”
  3. The tableau of five candidates on stage at first seemed more like a set of high school stereotypes than a political debate.
  4. Everybody else was screaming; the noise was overwhelming, the tableau so terrifying that my brain locked up.
  5. It contributed to the tableau of grievances inherited by every refugee.
  6. The old Moor turns his head as though he does not understand it; but the tableau in front is too dramatic to be lost.
  7. There was a tableau set against the gray, lichen-bossed rocks.
  8. The first tableau of real sublimity, perhaps, occurs in following up a stream called Savage River.
  9. His sudden appearance transformed the debate into a tableau.
  10. The excitement was intense; the scene, dramatic, as if they were holding their pose for a tableau.

Related words & Synonyms

illustration, spectacle, representation, picture, view

Nearby words

table tripod , table wine , table-hop , table-rapping , table-turning , tableau curtain , tableau vivant , tablecloth , tableful , tableland

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