Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A vivid or graphic description: The movie was a tableau of a soldier's life.
  • n. A striking incidental scene, as of a picturesque group of people: "New public figures suddenly abound in the hitherto faceless totalitarian tableaux” ( John McLaughlin).
  • n. An interlude during a scene when all the performers on stage freeze in position and then resume action as before.
  • n. A tableau vivant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A striking and vivid representation; a picture.
  • n. A vivid graphic scene of a group of people arranged as in a painting.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A striking and vivid representation; a picture.
  • n. A representation of some scene by means of persons grouped in the proper manner, placed in appropriate postures, and remaining silent and motionless.
  • n. The arrangement, or layout, of cards.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A picture, or a picturesque presentation; specifically, in English use, a picturesque grouping of persons and objects, or of either alone; a living picture. See tableau vivant, below.
  • n. In French law, a table or schedule; a showing; a list; a statement.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any dramatic scene
  • n. a group of people attractively arranged (as if in a painting)

Etymologies

French, from Old French tablel, diminutive of table, surface prepared for painting; see table.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French tableau, from Old French tablel ("a surface which is used primarily for painting"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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