belles lettres

noun, plural in form but singular in construction
belles let·​tres | \ bel-ˈletrᵊ How to pronounce belles lettres (audio) \

Definition of belles lettres

: literature that is an end in itself and not merely informative specifically : light, entertaining, and often sophisticated literature

First Known Use of belles lettres

1665, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for belles lettres

French, literally, fine letters

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About belles lettres

Time Traveler for belles lettres

Time Traveler

The first known use of belles lettres was in 1665

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near belles lettres

Bellerophon

belles lettres

belleter

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for belles lettres

Cite this Entry

“Belles lettres.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belles%20lettres. Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on belles lettres

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about belles lettres

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!