- literature regarded as a fine art, especially as having a purely aesthetic function.
- light and elegant literature, especially that which is excessively refined, characterized by aestheticism, and minor in subject, substance, or scope.
Origin of belles-lettres
SynonymsSee more synonyms for belles-lettres on Thesaurus.com
1. See literature.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for belles-lettres
So are made the belles-lettres and the beaux-arts and their professors.Walden, and On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience
Henry David Thoreau
The harlots were the Muses of belles-lettres during the Renaissance.
Her books were confined to religious works and belles-lettres.
Upon the tables there were engravings, drawing-books, and works of belles-lettres.Hortense, Makers of History Series
John S. C. Abbott
The third stage consists of belles-lettres and essay writing.History of Education
- (functioning as singular) literary works, esp essays and poetry, valued for their aesthetic rather than their informative or moral content
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 belles-lettres
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper