Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A slow, stately pattern dance in 3/4 time for groups of couples, originating in 17th-century France.
  • n. The music for or in the rhythm of the minuet.
  • n. A movement in 3/4 time that is usually the third, but sometimes the second, of a four-movement symphony or string quartet.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A slow graceful dance consisting of a coupé, a high step, and a balance.
  • n. A tune or air to regulate the movements of the minuet dance: it has the dance form, and is commonly in 3/4, sometimes 3/8, measure.
  • n. A complete short musical composition inspired by and conforming to many formal characteristics of the traditional musical accompaniment to the dance of same name.
  • n. A movement which is part of a longer musical composition such as a suite, sonata, or symphony which is inspired by and conforming to formal characteristics of the dance of same name.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A slow graceful dance consisting of a coupee, a high step, and a balance.
  • n. A tune or air to regulate the movements of the dance so called; a movement in suites, sonatas, symphonies, etc., having the dance form, and commonly in 3-4, sometimes 3-8, measure.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A slow and graceful dance, invented, probably in Poitou, France, about the middle of the seventeenth century. Throughout the eighteenth century it was “he most popular of the more stately and ceremonious dances.
  • n. Music for such a dance, or in its rhythm, which is triple and slow.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a stately piece of music composed for dancing the minuet; often incorporated into a sonata or suite
  • n. a stately court dance in the 17th century

Etymologies

French menuet, from Old French, small, dainty (from the small steps characteristic of the dance), diminutive of menu, small, from Latin minūtus; see minute2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French menuet, from menu ("small") + et ("diminutive"), from Latin minutus ("very small") (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "By late September, the president, now campaigning for Congress to give him his bailout package, was warning that we could otherwise indeed 'experience a long and painful recession.' But well into October, White House press spokesperson Dana Perino still responded to a question about whether we were in a recession by insisting, 'You know I don't think that we know.'
    Lest you imagine that this no-recession verbal minuet was simply a typical administration prevarication operation, for much of the year top newspapers (and the TV news) essentially agreed to agree."
    - Tom Engelhardt, 'The Day the Earth Still Stood:
    What Will Obama Inherit?', tomdispatch.com, 20 January 2009.

    January 21, 2009

  • The stately part of the official definition is misleading: a characteristic that the minuet acquired in the 19th century after everybody had stopped dancing it. The problem is most people of later periods, thinking of the minuet as graceful, have also assumed that it was slow, when in fact it was recommended that it be "played springily" (Johann Joachim Quantz, 1788).

    March 31, 2008

  • Nice when used unconventionally, as in a "conversational minuet"

    March 31, 2008