[ French bel-le-truh ]
See synonyms for: belles-lettresbelletristicbelletrist on

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.

Origin of belles-lettres

1700–10; from French: literally, “fine letters.” See belle, letter1

synonym study For belles-lettres

1. See literature.

Other words from belles-lettres

  • bel·let·rist [bel-le-trist], /bɛlˈlɛ trɪst/, noun
  • bel·let·ris·tic [bel-li-tris-tik], /ˌbɛl lɪˈtrɪs tɪk/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use belles-lettres in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for belles-lettres


/ (French bɛllɛtrə) /

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

Origin of 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