belles lettres

noun

belles let·​tres bel-ˈletrᵊ How to pronounce belles lettres (audio)
plural in form but singular in construction
: literature that is an end in itself and not merely informative
specifically : light, entertaining, and often sophisticated literature

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Word History

Etymology

French, literally, fine letters

First Known Use

1665, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of belles lettres was in 1665

Dictionary Entries Near belles lettres

Cite this Entry

“Belles lettres.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belles%20lettres. Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on belles lettres

Last Updated: 23 Aug 2022

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