tableless, adj.
/tay"beuhl/, n., v., tabled, tabling, adj.
1. an article of furniture consisting of a flat, slablike top supported on one or more legs or other supports: a kitchen table; an operating table; a pool table.
2. such a piece of furniture specifically used for serving food to those seated at it.
3. the food placed on a table to be eaten: She sets a good table.
4. a group of persons at a table, as for a meal, game, or business transaction.
5. a gaming table.
6. a flat or plane surface; a level area.
7. a tableland or plateau.
8. a concise list or guide: a table of contents.
9. an arrangement of words, numbers, or signs, or combinations of them, as in parallel columns, to exhibit a set of facts or relations in a definite, compact, and comprehensive form; a synopsis or scheme.
10. (cap.) Astron. the constellation Mensa.
11. a flat and relatively thin piece of wood, stone, metal, or other hard substance, esp. one artificially shaped for a particular purpose.
12. Archit.
a. a course or band, esp. of masonry, having a distinctive form or position.
b. a distinctively treated surface on a wall.
13. a smooth, flat board or slab on which inscriptions may be put.
14. tables,
a. the tablets on which certain collections of laws were anciently inscribed: the tables of the Decalogue.
b. the laws themselves.
15. Anat. the inner or outer hard layer or any of the flat bones of the skull.
16. Music. a sounding board.
17. Jewelry.
a. the upper horizontal surface of a faceted gem.
b. a gem with such a surface.
18. on the table, Parl. Proc.
a. U.S. postponed.
b. Brit. submitted for consideration.
19. turn the tables, to cause a reversal of an existing situation, esp. with regard to gaining the upper hand over a competitor, rival, antagonist, etc.: Fortune turned the tables and we won. We turned the tables on them and undersold them by 50 percent.
20. under the table,
a. drunk.
b. as a bribe; secretly: She gave money under the table to get the apartment.
21. wait (on) table, to work as a waiter or waitress: He worked his way through college by waiting table. Also, wait tables.
22. to place (a card, money, etc.) on a table.
23. to enter in or form into a table or list.
24. Parl. Proc.
a. Chiefly U.S. to lay aside (a proposal, resolution, etc.) for future discussion, usually with a view to postponing or shelving the matter indefinitely.
b. Brit. to present (a proposal, resolution, etc.) for discussion.
25. of, pertaining to, or for use on a table: a table lamp.
26. suitable for serving at a table or for eating or drinking: table grapes.
[bef. 900; (n.) ME; OE tabule, var. of tabula < L: plank, tablet; (v.) late ME: to record on a table, entertain at table, deriv. of the n.]

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Article of furniture used in the Western world since at least the 7th century BC, consisting of a flat slab of stone, metal, wood, or glass supported by trestles, legs, or a pillar.

Though tables were used in ancient Egypt, Assyria, and Greece, only during the Middle Ages, with the growing formality of life under feudalism, did tables increasingly take on social significance. Tables with attached legs appeared in the 15th century. The draw top was invented in the 16th century, making it possible to double the table length. Increasing contact with the East in the 18th century led to increasing specialization in the design of occasional tables.
(as used in expressions)
table sugar
groundwater table
Twelve Tables Law of the

* * *

      basic article of furniture, known and used in the Western world since at least the 7th century BC, consisting of a flat slab of stone, metal, wood, or glass supported by trestles, legs, or a pillar.

      Egyptian tables were made of wood, Assyrian of metal, and Grecian usually of bronze. Roman tables took on quite elaborate forms, the legs carved in the shapes of animals, sphinxes, or grotesque figures. Cedar and other exotic woods with a decorative grain were employed for the tops, and the tripod legs were made of bronze or other metals.

      Early medieval tables were of a fairly basic type, but there were certain notable exceptions; Charlemagne, for example, possessed two tables of silver and one of gold, probably constructed of wood covered with thin sheets of metal. With the growing formality of life in the feudal period, tables took on a greater social significance. Although small tables were used in private apartments, in the great hall of a feudal castle the necessity of feeding a host of retainers stimulated the development of an arrangement whereby the master and his guests sat at a rectangular table on a dais surmounted by a canopy, while the rest of the household sat at tables placed at right angles to this one.

      One of the few surviving examples of a large (and much restored) round table dating from the 15th century is at Winchester Castle in Hampshire, Eng. For the most part, circular tables were intended for occasional uses. The most common type of large medieval dining table was of trestle construction, consisting of massive boards of oak or elm resting on a series of central supports to which they were affixed by pegs, which could be removed and the table dismantled. Tables with attached legs, joined by heavy stretchers fixed close to the floor, appeared in the 15th century. They were of fixed size and heavy to move, but in the 16th century an ingenious device known as a draw top made it possible to double the length of the table. The top was composed of three leaves, two of which could be placed under the third and extended on runners when required. Such tables were usually made of oak or elm but sometimes of walnut or cherry. The basic principle involved is still applied to some extending tables.

      Growing technical sophistication meant that from the middle of the 16th century onward tables began to reflect far more closely than before the general design tendencies of their period and social context. The typical Elizabethan draw table, for instance, was supported on four vase-shaped legs terminating in Ionic capitals, reflecting perfectly the boisterous decorative atmosphere of the age. The despotic monarchies that yearned after the splendours of Louis XIV's Versailles promoted a fashion for tables of conspicuous opulence. Often made in Italy, these tables, which were common between the late 17th and mid-18th century, were sometimes inlaid with elaborate patterns of marquetry or rare marbles; others, such as that presented by the City of London to Charles II on his restoration as king of England, were entirely covered in silver or were made of ebony with silver mountings.

      Increasing contact with the East in the 18th century stimulated a taste for lacquered tables for occasional use. Indeed, the pattern of development in the history of the table that became apparent in this century was that, whereas the large dining table showed few stylistic changes, growing sophistication of taste and higher standards of living led to an increasing degree of specialization in occasional-table design. A whole range of particular functions was now being catered to, a tendency that persisted until at least the beginning of the 20th century. Social customs such as tea-drinking fueled the development of these specialized forms. The exploitation of man-made materials in the second half of the 20th century produced tables of such materials as plastic, metal, fibreglass, and even corrugated cardboard.

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Universalium. 2010.


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