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See also: Tableau



Unadapted borrowing from French tableau, from Old French tablel (a surface which is used primarily for painting).



tableau (plural tableaux or tableaus)

  1. A striking and vivid representation; a picture.
    • 2014 December, Paul Salopek, “Blessed. Cursed. Claimed.”, in National Geographic[1]:
      Stefania Chlouveraki, the project leader, stands at a long sorting table. She turns the colored fragments over and over in her fingertips. She fits each one into its place: a magnificent tableau of lions, crosses, pomegranate trees.
  2. A vivid graphic scene of a group of people arranged as in a painting or bas relief sculpture.
    Synonym: tableau vivant
    • 2020 July 30, David Zweig, “$25,000 Pod Schools: How Well-to-Do Children Will Weather the Pandemic”, in New York Times[2]:
      Folding chairs had been placed at prudent distances, and masks were dutifully worn. An Australian Labradoodle belonging to the home’s owners strutted among the guests. Despite the breezy suburban tableau, the occasion was fraught.
  3. (UK, dated) Hence, an arrangement of actors in static positions on stage, having the effect of pointing up a particular moment in the drama, conventionally revealed by opening tableau curtains (known as "tabs").
  4. (mathematics) A two-dimensional array or table of data, usually numbers, of various specific kinds.
    • 1994, Lynne M. Butler, Subgroup Lattices and Symmetric Functions, American Mathematical Society, →ISBN, page 92:
      For the tableau shown, there are three distinct procedures (one for each standard Young tableau of shape (2,1,1) with entries 1, 2, 3, and 4) for obtaining a Young tableau.
  5. (linguistics, optimality theory) A table that shows constraint violations of a list of candidates given an input and a constraint ranking.
  6. (card games) Mostly in solitaire card games, but also in other card and board games, the main area, where random cards can be arranged.
  7. (logic) A semantic tableau.
  8. (theater) unit of a play, an opera or a ballet with change of stage setting.
    • 1994, Gerda Taranow, Sarah Bernhardt: The Art Within the Legend, page 158:
      […] several scenes from the first act were consolidated into one tableau […]

Derived terms[edit]




Les mille et une nuits, 8th tableau, scene 4 / Cogniard brothers, 1843


  • IPA(key): /ta.blo/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -o


tableau m (plural tableaux)

  1. painting
  2. picture (a captured image)
  3. writing board
  4. table (arrangement of rows and columns)
  5. chart
  6. (theater) tableau

Derived terms[edit]


  • Greek: ταμπλό (tampló), ταμπλώ n (tampló)
  • Romanian: tablou
  • Russian: табло́ (tabló)
  • Turkish: tablo

Further reading[edit]