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belles-lettres

[French bel-le-truh]
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plural noun
  1. literature regarded as a fine art, especially as having a purely aesthetic function.
  2. light and elegant literature, especially that which is excessively refined, characterized by aestheticism, and minor in subject, substance, or scope.
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Origin of belles-lettres

1700–10; < French: literally, fine letters. See belle, letter1
Related formsbel·let·rist [bel-le-trist] /bɛlˈlɛ trɪst/, nounbel·let·ris·tic [bel-li-tris-tik] /ˌbɛl lɪˈtrɪs tɪk/, adjective

Synonyms

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1. See literature.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for belletristic

Historical Examples

  • In belletristic literature, also, we find occasional references to the love-sentiment in childhood.

    The Sexual Life of the Child

    Albert Moll

  • The belletristic and the puritanical conceptions of life presented themselves in their profoundest antithesis.


British Dictionary definitions for belletristic

belles-lettres

noun
  1. (functioning as singular) literary works, esp essays and poetry, valued for their aesthetic rather than their informative or moral content
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Word Origin

C17: from French: fine letters
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

Word Origin and History for belletristic

belles-lettres

n.

"elegant literature, aesthetics," 1710, French, literally "fine letters," from belles, plural of belle, fem. of beau "fine, beautiful" (see beau) + lettres, plural of lettre "letter" (see letter). The literary equivalent of beaux arts.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper