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pl.n. (used with a sing. verb)
1. Literature regarded for its aesthetic value rather than its didactic or informative content.
2. Light, stylish writings, usually on literary or intellectual subjects.
[French : belles, fine + lettres, letters, literature.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
(Literary & Literary Critical Movements) (functioning as singular) literary works, esp essays and poetry, valued for their aesthetic rather than their informative or moral content
[C17: from French: fine letters]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
belles-let•tres(Fr. bɛlˈlɛ trə)
(used with a sing. v.) literature that is polished and elegant and often inconsequential in subject or scope.
bel•let′rist (-trɪst) n.
bel`let•ris′tic (-lɪˈtrɪs tɪk) adj.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.