• IPA: /ˌbæɡəˈtɛl/

bagatelle (plural bagatelles)

  1. A trifle; an insubstantial thing.
    • 1782, Charles Macklin, Love a-la-Mode 21 ↗:,
      Sir C. Oh! dear madam, don't ask me, it's a very foolish song—a mere bagatelle.
      Char. Oh! Sir Callaghan, I will admit of no excuse.
    • 1850, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (volume 68, page 226)
      […] the jails were larger and fuller, the number of murders was incomparably greater, the thefts and swindlings in the old country were a bagatelle to the large depredations there […]
    • 1879 (6 Sep), "Railway Projects", Railway World, 5 (36): 853
      The repayment of the cost of the western part of the road, whatever it might be, would be a mere bagatelle, for the older provinces would have been enriched by the stimulus given to business by the opening up of the plains, […]
  2. A short piece of literature or of instrumental music, typically light or playful in character.
    • 2007, Norman Lebrecht, The Life And Death of Classical Music, page 7
      One afternoon in 1920. a young pianist sat down in a shuttered room in the capital of defeated Germany and played a Bagatelle by Beethoven.
  3. A game similar to billiards played on an oblong table with pockets or arches at one end only.
    • 1895, Hugh Legge, "The Repton Club", in John Matthew Knapp (ed.), The Universities and the Social Problem, page 139
      For some time they did nothing save box, but at last they went down to the bagatelle room, and played bagatelle for a bit. They marked this advance in civilization by prodding holes in the ceiling with the bagatelle cues, which gave the ceiling the appearance of a cloth target after a Gatling gun had been shooting at it.
  4. 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.
Synonyms Translations Translations
  • Russian: (music) багате́ль
  • Spanish: bagatela
  • Spanish: billar romano

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