[ta-bloh, tab-loh]

noun, plural tab·leaux [ta-blohz, tab-lohz] /tæˈbloʊz, ˈtæb loʊz/, tab·leaus.

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for tableaux

illustration, spectacle, representation, picture, view

Examples from the Web for tableaux

Contemporary Examples of tableaux

Historical Examples of tableaux

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for tableaux


noun plural -leaux (-ləʊ, -ləʊz) or -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 for tableau

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

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