- a course or band, especially of masonry, having a distinctive form or position.
- a distinctively treated surface on a wall.
- the tablets on which certain collections of laws were anciently inscribed: the tables of the Decalogue.
- the laws themselves.
- the upper horizontal surface of a faceted gem.
- a gem with such a surface.
verb (used with object), ta·bled, ta·bling.
- Chiefly U.S.to lay aside (a proposal, resolution, etc.) for future discussion, usually with a view to postponing or shelving the matter indefinitely.
- British.to present (a proposal, resolution, etc.) for discussion.
- British.submitted for consideration.
- as a bribe; secretly: She gave money under the table to get the apartment.
Origin of table
- such a slab or board on which food is servedwe were six at table
- (as modifier)table linen
- (in combination)a tablecloth
- a company of persons assembled for a meal, game, etc
- (as modifier)table talk
- an arrangement of words, numbers, or signs, usually in parallel columns, to display data or relationsa table of contents
- See multiplication table
- either of the two bony plates that form the inner and outer parts of the flat bones of the cranium
- any thin flat plate, esp of bone
Word Origin for table
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.
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.
on the table
Up for discussion, as in There are two new proposals on the table. [Mid-1600s]
Postponed or put aside for later consideration, as in When they adjourned, three items were put on the table until the next meeting. [First half of 1700s] The table in both idioms is a figurative conference table. Also see lay one's cards on the table.
see clear out (the table); lay one's cards on the table; on the table; set the table; turn the tables; under the table; wait at table.