I'm wondering about the opposite of a plateau. I mean, I tend to associate "valley" with a downward spike, as in peaks and valleys. I want to talk of "a flat bottom on the data graph" in the same way that you might talk about a plateau in the graph.

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    A flat bottom? Call it "Bane of SirMixalot". Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 16:50
  • What is the opposite of ocean ? How is this related to stats ? You mean some geographical term for uneven lowland? As according to wiki, plateau is "flat high plain". Why don't you try cross-validated ?
    – Argot
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 16:52
  • If there is no oft-used term, I would like to submit morass. It has both the physical landscape similarity (low-lying, flat) and the connotation that finding it on a chart yields (stagnant, encumbered, unable to grow/change). Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 17:35
  • @Argot I suppose I didn't establish the connection; this is related to stats because I want to talk of "a flat bottom on the data graph" in the same way that you might talk about a plateau in the graph.
    – jhocking
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 18:58

5 Answers 5


Trough might work. It is the low point between peaks or waves.

A long, narrow depression between waves or ridges; the low portion of a wave cycle.

It also has an economic definition.

In general, the business cycle is said to go through expansion, then the peak, followed by contraction, and then it finally bottoms out with the trough.


Consider "bowl:"

bowl: a bowl-shaped depression of the land surface.


It reshapes the q-field, creating "bowls" and "plateaus" which allow the flow to cross latitude circles.

There are numerous bowls and plateaus.

A flat-bottomed bowl (or basin) is a pan.

pan (also called "playa" or "dry lake"): flat-bottomed depression that is periodically covered by water.


Located at the southern end of the Great Rift Valley, the4,000 sq. km. park has diverse ecosystems including savannah, rain-filled pans and plateaus with miombo...

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    Bowls aren't flat! What kind of gourmet are you?? ;) Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 17:36
  • @DigitalChris Well, at least it can be considered as the opposite of a plateau. ;-)
    – Elian
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 17:40

If I were describing a flat on the graph that was down near the axis, I would call it a low plateau. A plateau doesn't necessarily imply height beyond being above baseline.

If it on the baseline, I would call it either a baseline plateau, or even just name the axis of the graph itself. (The x-axis, etc.)

If it is a true low-point, you can use the term nadir.


I think the answer is just valley. When I think of a valley I think of something that goes down, is then pretty flat, and goes back up. If that is what your graph does I would go with valley. If it is sharper then you could use gorge or canyon.

Other graph phrases:

  • stagnant dip
  • dip then flat line

If you don't think valleys are flat you could go with inverted plateau.


Since you're coming at this from the perspective of statistics, why not the mathematical concept of "asymptote"?

  • Please consider adding to your answer a definition of asymptote from a reliable source. That way, the answer will be more complete and self-contained—and more helpful to readers who may not grasp at once why asymptote might be a suitable suggestion. Thanks!
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 0:07

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