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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tableaux
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Another block, and life had again focused itself into tableaux.

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht
  • tableaux and dramatic pantomime in the streets were combined with the processions.


    William Graham Sumner
  • The evening at the school-party was to terminate with some tableaux.

    The Guardian Angel Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • I merely set the stage for the tableaux of the national monuments.

    The Book of the National Parks Robert Sterling Yard
  • We are having a reception in the evening, with music and tableaux.

    More About Peggy Mrs G. de Horne Vaizey
  • Dorothy was the first to see Marion at the door of their room after the tableaux.

    Miss Ashton's New Pupil Mrs. S. S. Robbins
British Dictionary definitions for tableaux


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 tableaux



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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