Definitions

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

  • n. A love letter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A love letter.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A love letter or note.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A love-note or short love-letter.

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

  • n. a personal letter to a loved one expressing affection

Etymologies

French : billet, short note; see billet1 + doux, sweet (from Latin dulcis).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Borrowing from French, from billet, "note" and doux, "sweet". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • She had no sooner, as a dutiful child, communicated this billet-doux to her father, than he, as a careful parent, visited Mr. Pickle, and, in presence of Mrs. Grizzle, demanded a formal explanation of his sentiments with regard to his daughter Sally.

    The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle

  • Ah my dear little enemy of the T. R, D., what were the cudgels in YOUR little billet-doux compared to those noble New York shillelaghs?

    Roundabout Papers

  • No one has written a billet-doux on any of my cadavers' bellies.

    The Fifth Rapunzel

  • In truth I am almost decided to answer this precious billet-doux in the same vein in which it was written.

    Adrift in the Ice-Fields

  • The climax is reached on his discovery among the accounts, all giving proof of his wife's reckless extravagance, a billet-doux, pleading for a clandestine meeting in his own garden.

    The Standard Operaglass Detailed Plots of One Hundred and Fifty-one Celebrated Operas

  • For some years I made a collection of confiscated billet-doux, but they were destroyed in one of the frequent fires which visit Manila.

    A Woman's Impression of the Philippines

  • It was near night before a suitable time came, and my billet-doux contained the following: You are cordially invited to be present at the Commencement Exercises of the ——Female Seminary, on the evening of July 3d, 1863, at eight o'clock P. M. Compliments of Gertrude ——.

    The Story of a Cannoneer Under Stonewall Jackson

  • He at once wrote Gutel a missive so thickly interlarded with quotations from the Song of Solomon, from Goethe, Petofi, Heine, and Chateaubriand, that when Kalimann read the billet-doux to the blushing girl her head was quite turned.

    Stories by Foreign Authors: German — Volume 1

  • Big Butch Brewster, to whom the billet-doux was addressed in T. Haviland Hicks, Jr.'s, familiar scrawl, tore open the envelope, and while the squad listened, he read aloud the message left by that sunny-souled youth; "DEAR BUTCH: "Coach Corridan will have to use the alarm clock from now on! I'm called away on business. See that my stuff gets to Bannister O.K. Stow it in the room next to yours. I'll be back at college some time in the next century. Give my adieux to Coach Corridan and the squad."

    T. Haviland Hicks Senior

  • Not a word had the Head Coach, Captain Brewster, the football squad, or any of the collegians received from the blithesome youth, since the billet-doux he left with old Hinky-Dink at Camp Bannister.

    T. Haviland Hicks Senior

Comments

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  • The first recorded use of the French word "billet doux" (literally, "sweet letter") in an English context occurs in John Dryden's 1673 play Marriage a-la-Mode. In the play, Dryden pokes fun at linguistic Francophiles in English society through the comic character Melanthe, who is described by her prospective lover Rodophil as follows: "No lady can be so curious of a new fashion as she is of a new French word; she's the very mint of the nation, and as fast as any bullion comes out of France, coins it immediately into our language." True to form, Melanthe describes Rodophil with the following words: "Let me die, but he's a fine man; he sings and dances en Français, and writes the billets doux to a miracle." - www.m-w.com Word of the Day for February 13, 2007

    February 13, 2007