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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 belletrist

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

belletrist

/bɛlˈlɛtrɪst/
noun
1.
a writer of belles-lettres
Derived Forms
belletrism, noun
belletristic (ˌbɛlɪˈtrɪstɪk) adjective
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 belletrist
belles-lettres
"elegant literature, aesthetics," 1710, from Fr., lit. "fine letters," from belles, pl. of belle, fem. of beau "fine, beautiful" + lettres, pl. of lettre "letter." The literary equivalent of beaux arts.
belletrist
1816, from belles-lettres. Adj. belletristic is recorded from 1821.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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