Definition of bagatelle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌbaɡəˈtel/


1A thing of little importance; a very easy task: dealing with these boats was a mere bagatelle for the world’s oldest yacht club
More example sentences
  • Deneuve probably intended A L' ombre de Moi-meme (In My Shadow), a collection of personal thoughts from the sets of her films, to be a mere bagatelle, an amuse-bouche for a curious reader.
  • Last week's controversy over the standard of Scottish refereeing (minging, as ever) is a mere bagatelle compared to the state of anguish they get into at that most fevered game, cricket.
  • It's not so much the price - £3m, which in stockbroker Surrey, on a direct line to Waterloo, is a mere bagatelle - but more the style that requires a certain kind of buyer.
2A game in which small balls are hit and then allowed to roll down a sloping board on which there are holes, each numbered with the score achieved if a ball goes into it, with pins acting as obstructions.
Example sentences
  • He's flipped that in the mixer, there's a crowd scene in there and it's bagatelle football with the ball pinging around.
  • A game of bagatelle then ensued as first Murray and then Barry Ferguson had efforts blocked.
  • It isn't just in the last few years that teenagers, with the hormones bouncing around their bodies like bagatelle balls, have suddenly begun to exhibit signs of volatility and truculence.
3A short, light piece of music, especially one for the piano.
Example sentences
  • Sixteen preparatory pieces, such as preludes, etudes, bagatelles, barcarolles, nocturnes and polonaises, present, reinforce and prepare students for what is coming next.
  • The ovations seemed louder than ever last month as Levine worked overtime at the Met, appearing an average of every other night conducting such bagatelles as Parsifal, Ariadne auf Naxos, Nabucco, and Lulu.
  • These were obviously intended as a pair: mere bagatelles, 3 bars long.


Mid 17th century (sense 1): from French, from Italian bagatella, perhaps from baga 'baggage' or from a diminutive of Latin baca 'berry'. sense 2 dates from the early 19th century.

Words that rhyme with bagatelle

Adele, Aix-la-Chapelle, aquarelle, artel, au naturel, béchamel, befell, bell, belle, boatel, Brunel, Cadell, carousel, cartel, cell, Chanel, chanterelle, clientele, Clonmel, compel, Cornell, crime passionnel, dell, demoiselle, dispel, dwell, el, ell, Estelle, excel, expel, farewell, fell, Fidel, fontanelle, foretell, Gabrielle, gazelle, gel, Giselle, hell, hotel, impel, knell, lapel, mademoiselle, maître d'hôtel, Manuel, marcel, matériel, mesdemoiselles, Michel, Michelle, Miguel, misspell, morel, moschatel, Moselle, motel, muscatel, nacelle, Nell, Nobel, Noel, organelle, outsell, Parnell, pell-mell, personnel, propel, quell, quenelle, rappel, Raquel, Ravel, rebel, repel, Rochelle, Sahel, sardelle, sell, shell, show-and-tell, smell, Snell, spell, spinel, swell, tell, undersell, vielle, villanelle, well, yell

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bag·a·telle

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