Definitions

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

  • n. An unimportant or insignificant thing; a trifle.
  • n. A short, light piece of verse or music.
  • n. A game played on an oblong table with a cue and balls.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A trifle; an unsubstantial thing.
  • n. A short piece of literature or of instrumental music, typically light or playful in character.
  • n. A game similar to billiards played on an oblong table with pockets or arches at one end only.
  • n. Any of several smaller, wooden table top games developed from the original bagatelle in which the pockets are made of pins; also called pin bagatelle, hit-a-pin bagatelle, jaw ball.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A trifle; a thing of no importance.
  • n. A game played on an oblong board, having, at one end, cups or arches into or through which balls are to be driven by a rod held in the hand of the player.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A trifle; a thing of no importance.
  • n. A game played on a table having at one end nine holes, into which balls are to be struck with a billiard-cue.
  • n. Specifically, in music, a short and light piece, usually for the piano.

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

  • n. something of little value or significance
  • n. a table game in which short cues are used to knock balls into holes that are guarded by wooden pegs; penalties are incurred if the pegs are knocked over
  • n. a light piece of music for piano

Etymologies

French, from Italian bagatella, diminutive of dialectal bagata, little property, possibly from Latin bāca, berry.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French bagatelle, from Italian bagattella. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • A mercurial and fractured look at the bond between two brothers, this nouvelle vague-inflected bagatelle is played by two of France's indelible young actors, Romain Duris and Louis Garrel.

    GreenCine Daily: SFIFF. Preview.

  • Contredanse (1827) seems to condense ballade and mazurka into a unit that Beethoven would likely have called a bagatelle, except the sweetness belongs to Chopin.

    Audiophile Audition Headlines

  • A bagatelle is a short piece of music, usually for piano, and with a light mellow character.

    LearnHub Activities

  • Consular 'bagatelle' was too confined in comparison with the spacious apartments in the Tuileries.

    Complete Project Gutenberg Collection of Memoirs of Napoleon

  • Malmaison was a suitable country residence for Bonaparte as long as he remained content with his town apartments in the little Luxembourg; but that Consular 'bagatelle' was too confined in comparison with the spacious apartments in the Tuileries.

    The Memoirs of Napoleon

  • She remained in deep meditation, and began to search for the real obstacle that she had encountered, for it was impossible that it should enter the mind of any lady, that a gentleman could despise that bagatelle which is of such great price and so high value.

    Droll Stories — Volume 1

  • 'bagatelle', the player's demands to leave Old Trafford are guaranteed to overshadow the game at the Britannia Stadium.

    Telegraph.co.uk - Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph

  • "A delicious bagatelle, frothier and more imaginative than its predecessor."

    Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder by Gyles Brandreth: Book summary

  • At fifteen cents a dozen, the initial cost of his thousand dozen would be one hundred and fifty dollars, a mere bagatelle in face of the enormous profit.

    THE ONE THOUSAND DOZEN

  • The exposure of numerous MPs and Peers over the summer as nothing so much as looters of the public purse is actually no more than a mere bagatelle.

    Archive 2009-08-30

Comments

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  • Also an Irish band:
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    Bagatelle (band)

    December 15, 2007

  • or a trifle?

    September 24, 2007

  • And here I always thought it was French bread. ;->

    September 24, 2007

  • A game played on a table having a semi-circular end at which are nine holes. The balls used are struck from the opposite end of the board with a cue. The name is sometimes applied to a modified form of billiards known also as semi-billiards.

    September 24, 2007

  • Every story, new or ancient,
    Bagatelle or work of art:
    All are tales of human failing;
    All are tales of love at heart

    January 11, 2007

  • If only some rain would fall
    On the houses and the boulevards
    And the sidewalk bagatelles
    It's like a dream

    December 2, 2006