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[tey-buh l] /ˈteɪ bəl/
an article of furniture consisting of a flat, slablike top supported on one or more legs or other supports:
a kitchen table; an operating table; a pool table.
such a piece of furniture specifically used for serving food to those seated at it.
the food placed on a table to be eaten:
She sets a good table.
a group of persons at a table, as for a meal, game, or business transaction.
a gaming table.
a flat or plane surface; a level area.
a tableland or plateau.
a concise list or guide:
The table of contents in the front of the book includes chapter names and page numbers.
an arrangement of words, numbers, or signs, or combinations of them, as in parallel columns, to exhibit a set of facts or relations in a definite, compact, and comprehensive form; a synopsis or scheme.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Mensa.
a flat and relatively thin piece of wood, stone, metal, or other hard substance, especially one artificially shaped for a particular purpose.
  1. a course or band, especially of masonry, having a distinctive form or position.
  2. a distinctively treated surface on a wall.
a smooth, flat board or slab on which inscriptions may be put.
  1. the tablets on which certain collections of laws were anciently inscribed:
    the tables of the Decalogue.
  2. the laws themselves.
Anatomy. the inner or outer hard layer or any of the flat bones of the skull.
Music. a sounding board.
  1. the upper horizontal surface of a faceted gem.
  2. a gem with such a surface.
verb (used with object), tabled, tabling.
to place (a card, money, etc.) on a table.
to enter in or form into a table or list.
Parliamentary Procedure.
  1. Chiefly U.S. to lay aside (a proposal, resolution, etc.) for future discussion, usually with a view to postponing or shelving the matter indefinitely.
  2. British. to present (a proposal, resolution, etc.) for discussion.
of, relating to, or for use on a table:
a table lamp.
suitable for serving at a table or for eating or drinking:
table grapes.
on the table, Parliamentary Procedure.
  1. U.S. postponed.
  2. British. submitted for consideration.
turn the tables, to cause a reversal of an existing situation, especially with regard to gaining the upper hand over a competitor, rival, antagonist, etc.:
Fortune turned the tables and we won. We turned the tables on them and undersold them by 50 percent.
under the table,
  1. drunk.
  2. as a bribe; secretly:
    She gave money under the table to get the apartment.
wait (on) table, to work as a waiter or waitress:
He worked his way through college by waiting table.
Also, wait tables.
Origin of table
before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English tabule, variant of tabula < Latin: plank, tablet; (v.) late Middle English: to record on a table, entertain at table, derivative of the noun
Related forms
tableless, adjective
untabled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for table
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • When these were arranged upon the table to his satisfaction, they sat down to tea.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • "Here are the things," said Sara, and laid her purchases on the table.

    Sara Crewe Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Mr. Bentham turned over some papers which lay upon the table before him.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • She touched the chair, the table; she lifted the cover of one of the dishes.

    Sara Crewe Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The boy laid the poster on the table where she could read it again, word for word.

    The Coyote James Roberts
British Dictionary definitions for table


a flat horizontal slab or board, usually supported by one or more legs, on which objects may be placed related adjective mensal
  1. such a slab or board on which food is served: we were six at table
  2. (as modifier): table linen
  3. (in combination): a tablecloth
food as served in a particular household or restaurant: a good table
such a piece of furniture specially designed for any of various purposes: a backgammon table, bird table
  1. a company of persons assembled for a meal, game, etc
  2. (as modifier): table talk
any flat or level area, such as a plateau
a rectangular panel set below or above the face of a wall
(architect) another name for cordon (sense 4)
an upper horizontal facet of a cut gem
(music) the sounding board of a violin, guitar, or similar stringed instrument
  1. an arrangement of words, numbers, or signs, usually in parallel columns, to display data or relations: a table of contents
  2. See multiplication table
a tablet on which laws were inscribed by the ancient Romans, the Hebrews, etc
(palmistry) an area of the palm's surface bounded by four lines
(printing) a slab of smooth metal on which ink is rolled to its proper consistency
  1. either of the two bony plates that form the inner and outer parts of the flat bones of the cranium
  2. any thin flat plate, esp of bone
on the table, put forward for discussion and acceptance: we currently have our final offer on the table
turn the tables on someone, to cause a complete reversal of circumstances, esp to defeat or get the better of someone who was previously in a stronger position
verb (transitive)
to place on a table
(Brit) to submit (a bill, etc) for consideration by a legislative body
(US) to suspend discussion of (a bill, etc) indefinitely or for some time
to enter in or form into a list; tabulate
Derived Forms
tableful, noun
tableless, adjective
Word Origin
C12: via Old French from Latin tabula a writing tablet
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 table

late 12c., "board, slab, plate," from Old French table "board, plank, writing table, picture" (11c.), and late Old English tabele, from West Germanic *tabal (cf. Old High German zabel, German Tafel), both the French and Germanic words from Latin tabula "a board, plank, table," originally "small flat slab or piece" usually for inscriptions or for games, of uncertain origin, related to Umbrian tafle "on the board."

The sense of "piece of furniture with the flat top and legs" first recorded c.1300 (the usual Latin word for this was mensa (see mensa); Old English writers used bord (see board (n.1)). The meaning "arrangement of numbers or other figures for convenience" is recorded from late 14c. (e.g. table of contents, mid-15c.).

Figurative phrase turn the tables (1630s) is from backgammon (in Old and Middle English the game was called tables). Table talk is attested from 1560s, translating Latin colloquia mensalis. To table-hop is first recorded 1956. The adjectival phrase under-the-table "hidden from view" is recorded from 1949; under the table "passed out from excess drinking" is recorded from 1921. Table tennis is recorded from 1887.


in parliamentary sense, 1718, originally "to lay on the (speaker's) table for discussion," from table (n.). But in U.S. political jargon it has chiefly the sense of "to postpone indefinitely" (1866). Related: Tabled; tabling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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table in Medicine

table ta·ble (tā'bəl)

  1. An article of furniture supported by one or more vertical legs and having a flat horizontal surface.

  2. An orderly arrangement of data, especially one in which the data are arranged in columns and rows in an essentially rectangular form.

  3. An abbreviated list, as of contents; a synopsis.

  4. The inner or outer flat layer of bones of the skull separated by the diploë.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for table


Related Terms

under the table

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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table in Technology

A collection of records in a relational database.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Idioms and Phrases with table
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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