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[bil-ey-doo, bil-ee-; French bee-yey-doo] /ˈbɪl eɪˈdu, ˈbɪl i-; French bi yeɪˈdu/
noun, plural billets-doux
[bil-ey-dooz, bil-ee-; French bee-yey-doo] /ˈbɪl eɪˈduz, ˈbɪl i-; French bi yeɪˈdu/ (Show IPA)
a love letter.
Origin of billet-doux
1665-75; < French: literally, sweet note. See billet1, douce Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for billet-doux
Historical Examples
  • He summoned me into his study, where I saw my billet-doux lying on the table.

    Tom, Dick and Harry Talbot Baines Reed
  • A papal excommunication is a billet-doux compared to the Commination of Jugana.

  • Excuse me, Mr. Coates, I must have a peep at her ladyship's billet-doux.

    Rookwood William Harrison Ainsworth
  • They receive a challenge like a "billet-doux," and a home-thrust as a favour.

    Thackerayana William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Twenty to seven,—seven oclock they were due at the billet-doux.

    Twos and Threes G. B. Stern
  • It cannot be that Belinda then saw for the first time a billet-doux.

  • Oh, you have not heard of the billet-doux that Schwarzfelder has written you?

    In Hostile Red Joseph Altsheler
  • "Why, then, you must swear the billet-doux miscarried," answered the Duke.

    Peveril of the Peak Sir Walter Scott
  • He could not write a common answer to a dinner invitation without its assuming the tone of a billet-doux.

    Art in England

    Dutton Cook
  • Sir Philip was actually reading Miss Luttridge's billet-doux aloud when the black entered the library.

British Dictionary definitions for billet-doux


/ˌbɪlɪˈduː; French bijɛdu/
noun (pl) billets-doux (ˌbɪlɪˈduːz; French) (bijɛdu)
(old-fashioned or jocular) a love letter
Word Origin
C17: from French, literally: a sweet letter, from billet (see billet1) + doux sweet, from Latin dulcis
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 billet-doux

also billet doux, 1670s, "love letter," French, literally "sweet note," from billet "document, note" (14c., diminutive of bille; see bill (n.1)) + doux "sweet," from Latin dulcis (see dulcet).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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