belle epoque

noun, often capitalized B&E
\ ˈbel-ā-ˈpȯk How to pronounce belle epoque (audio) \
variants: or belle époque

Definition of belle epoque

: a period of high artistic or cultural development especially : such a period in fin de siècle France

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In the years before World War I, France experienced a period of economic growth that produced a wealth of artistic and cultural developments. That era has been described as excessive, glittering, gaudy, and extravagant, but the tumultuous days of war that followed it inspired the French to call that productive period la belle époque—literally, "the beautiful age." The term belle epoque soon found its way into English, where it came to be used to refer not only to the glory days of late 19th-century France, but to any similarly luxurious period. It is now used to more elegantly convey the sentiments of another nostalgic expression, "the good old days."

Examples of belle epoque in a Sentence

that 19th-century belle epoque when Paris seemed to be the artistic center of the universe
Recent Examples on the Web Horowitz deepens the allure of this true-crime page-turner by contextualizing how sexuality was used by and against women in belle epoque Paris, and how far police went to protect elites. Becky Meloan, Washington Post, 30 Aug. 2022 The opulent luxury of first class that now feels rather like a belle epoque for aviation is being replaced by a more understated desire, Kopola explains. John Walton, CNN, 4 Oct. 2021 The most elegant bridge in Paris Then comes the most elegant of Paris bridges: the Pont Alexandre III, a belle epoque confection linking the Invalides to the Champs-Élysées. Elaine Sciolino, New York Times, 4 Nov. 2019 By the belle epoque era, however, tastes veered upscale and bouillons faded or transformed entirely, their charming interiors left untouched while their menus became decidedly upscale. Lindsey Tramuta, New York Times, 16 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'belle epoque.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of belle epoque

1904, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for belle epoque

French, literally, beautiful age

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The first known use of belle epoque was in 1904

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Dictionary Entries Near belle epoque

Belleek

belle epoque

Belle Fourche

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Last Updated

4 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Belle epoque.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belle%20epoque. Accessed 24 Sep. 2022.

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