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belles-lettres

[French bel-le-truh] /French bɛlˈlɛ trə/
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
1700-10; < French: literally, fine letters. See belle, letter1
Related forms
belletrist
[bel-le-trist] /bɛlˈlɛ trɪst/ (Show IPA),
noun
belletristic
[bel-li-tris-tik] /ˌbɛl lɪˈtrɪs tɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective
Synonyms
1. See literature.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for belles-lettre

belles-lettres

/French bɛllɛtrə/
noun
1.
(functioning as sing) literary works, esp essays and poetry, valued for their aesthetic rather than their informative or moral content
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for belles-lettre

belles-lettres

n.

"elegant literature, aesthetics," 1710, French, literally "fine letters," from belles, plural of belle, fem. of beau "fine, beautiful" (see beau) + lettres, plural of lettre "letter" (see letter). The literary equivalent of beaux arts.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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8
11
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