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[bag-uh-tel] /ˌbæg əˈtɛl/
something of little value or importance; a trifle.
a game played on a board having holes at one end into which balls are to be struck with a cue.
a short and light musical composition, typically for the piano.
Origin of bagatelle
1630-40; < French < Upper Italian bagat(t)ella, equivalent to bagatt(a) small possession (perhaps bag(a) berry (< Latin bāca; cf. bay4) + -att(a) diminutive suffix) + -ella < Latin -illa diminutive suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for bagatelle
Historical Examples
  • I don't know that there is much soaring upwards in bagatelle.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope
  • And, after all, when they got to Berkeley Square no bagatelle was played at all.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope
  • But the bagatelle would almost have been better than what occurred.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope
  • He was a member of the Baldwin, the Cavendish, and the bagatelle card clubs.

    The Return of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle
  • He could not be cold-blooded enough to drive even such a bagatelle from his head.

    Debts of Honor Maurus Jkai
  • After we finished shooting some of us had a game of bagatelle on a table in the gun-room.

    The Hand in the Dark Arthur J. Rees
  • He hurried off, and in a moment the clack of bagatelle began again.

    The Island Pharisees John Galsworthy
  • I know one to be had a bargain,—a bagatelle,—five hundred naps a-year.

    The Parisians, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • "They're bagatelle," she said, using one of her mother's rare phrases.

    The Rainbow D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence
  • Who spoke but now of 'killing time,' 'play,' 'Number One,' and 'bagatelle'?

British Dictionary definitions for bagatelle


something of little value or significance; trifle
a board game in which balls are struck into holes, with pins as obstacles; pinball
another name for bar billiards
a short light piece of music, esp for piano
Word Origin
C17: from French, from Italian bagattella, from (dialect) bagatta a little possession, from baga a possession, probably from Latin bāca berry
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
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Word Origin and History for bagatelle

1630s, "a trifle," from French bagatelle "knick-knack, bauble, trinket" (16c.), from Italian bagatella "a trifle," diminutive of Latin baca "berry." As "a piece of light music," it is attested from 1827.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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