something of little value or importance; a trifle.
a game played on a board having holes at one end into which balls are to be struck with a cue.
a short and light musical composition, typically for the piano.

1630–40; < French < Upper Italian bagat(t)ella, equivalent to bagatt(a) small possession (perhaps bag(a) berry (< Latin bāca; cf. bay4) + -att(a) diminutive suffix) + -ella < Latin -illa diminutive suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To bagatelle
World English Dictionary
bagatelle (ˌbæɡəˈtɛl)
1.  something of little value or significance; trifle
2.  a board game in which balls are struck into holes, with pins as obstacles; pinball
3.  another name for bar billiards
4.  a short light piece of music, esp for piano
[C17: from French, from Italian bagattella, from (dialect) bagatta a little possession, from baga a possession, probably from Latin bāca berry]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

1630s, "a trifle," from Fr. bagatelle "knicknack, bauble, trinket" (16c.), from It. bagatella "a trifle," dim. of L. baca "berry." As "a piece of light music," it is attested from 1827.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica


game, probably of English origin, that is similar to billiards and was probably a modification of it. Bagatelle is played with billiard cues and nine balls on an oblong board or table varying in size from 6 by 1.5 ft (1.8 by 0.5 m) to 10 by 3 ft (3 by 0.9 m), with nine numbered cups at its head, eight arranged in a circle and the ninth in its centre. The cups are approximately 2.5 in (6.3 cm) in diameter. The balls are approximately 1.88 in (4.77 cm) in diameter. Sans egal, the cannon game, and Mississippi are among the many variations of bagatelle.

Learn more about bagatelle with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
The number now here is a bagatelle to what it maybe.
They dismiss their political connections as a mere bagatelle.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature