belles-lettres

[ French bel-le-truh ]
/ French bɛlˈlɛ trə /

plural noun

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

1700–10; < French: literally, fine letters. See belle, letter1

OTHER WORDS FROM belles-lettres

bel·let·rist [bel-le-trist] /bɛlˈlɛ trɪst/, nounbel·let·ris·tic [bel-li-tris-tik] /ˌbɛl lɪˈtrɪs tɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for belles-lettres

British Dictionary definitions for belles-lettres

belles-lettres
/ (French bɛllɛtrə) /

noun

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

Word Origin for belles-lettres

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