Meaning of bagatelle in English:


Pronunciation /ˌbaɡəˈtɛl/

See synonyms for bagatelle on

Translate bagatelle into Spanish


  • 1mass noun A 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.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘It began to provide leisure facilities for its members, including rooms in the Queen Street headquarters for people who played bagatelle, billiards and ‘who wished to indulge in the doubtful activity of smoking’.’
    • ‘William finally holed out for twelve after playing bagatelle with a few trees, a rabbit hole and a water hazard that no-one had noticed before.’
    • ‘Under the Bolton Corporation Act, 1872, there were also 158 licences for public music, dancing, and billiards, bagatelle, bowls, etc.’
    • ‘And as for talent, you've talent plenty at bagatelle and charming women.’
    • ‘Then Richard Butler took advantage of a bout of defensive bagatelle only to dribble his shot wide of the target.’
    • ‘On countless occasion, Jim Jeffries' men seemed to be caught up in penalty box bagatelle in their visitors area, the Inverness defence stretched like the skin of a drum.’
    • ‘You watch him, and you find yourself picturing the latest shot whizzing round his body, like a silver ball in a bagatelle.’
    • ‘Their winning goal typified the game, a piece of bash-bash bagatelle executed mostly in the air.’
    • ‘We get buffeted through life like a ball-bearing in a bagatelle, bouncing off chance encounters, opportunities, unforeseen obstacles.’
    • ‘Bagatelle was played on large slate-bed tables of a similar size to Snooker or Billiards tables.’
    • ‘The original game of bagatelle was and is a pub game of skill that is closely related to the games of Billiards, Pool and Snooker.’
    • ‘Nineteenth century bagatelle floor standing tables required cue sticks to propel ivory balls.’
    • ‘Bagatelle games are normally played with 1 black ball and either 8 whites or 4 whites and 4 reds.’
    • ‘My uncle is showing his newly-refurbished ball-game board: he calls it Bagatelle, but it looks more like a small billiard table to me.’
    • ‘This tabletop Bagatelle game was donated to the Museum in 1982.’
    • ‘Here, she whizzed about like a bagatelle ball.’
    • ‘For 250 NP you can try your luck at the old Bagatelle stand.’
    trinket, bauble, knick-knack, ornament, gewgaw, trifle, gimcrack, bagatelle, triviality
  • 2A thing regarded as too unimportant or easy to be worth much consideration.

    ‘dealing with these boats was a mere bagatelle for the world's oldest yacht club’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So here we go again - pass the bill to the long-suffering tax payer; its only £12.4 million, a mere bagatelle.’
    • ‘Such a sacrifice is a mere bagatelle to the committed journalist.’
    • ‘But that cup successes have already become a mere bagatelle to the midfielder points to him having a veteran's outlook to honours.’
    • ‘It was missing only a certain small gesture on Lance's part, a mere bagatelle.’
    • ‘A mere bagatelle, one would have thought, to such a material girl.’
    • ‘Playing 49 people in the course of one performance is, of course, a mere bagatelle for this man.’
    • ‘My dear, eight years' difference is a mere bagatelle.’
    • ‘He certainly opens himself up to accusations of being so careless with the truth that it is a mere bagatelle to him.’
    • ‘With this money banked, BT moves closer to its net debt target of £10 bn, a mere bagatelle for a major-ish European telco.’
    • ‘This is a mere bagatelle by the standards on BBC Online sites, clocking in excess of 80 million a month, but it's still not at all bad.’
    • ‘I'm pretty shy and not that aggressive, so this is kind of a big deal to me, even if others might see it as a mere bagatelle.’
    • ‘His torture over the Dome [another Blair assignment for his unelected chum] will be a bagatelle compared to what is uniquely dished out north of the Border.’
    • ‘By then, too, those dreary individuals who've droned on ad nauseam over the cost - a bagatelle in the great scheme of things - will no doubt be begging for invitations to the opening.’
    • ‘The ten mill was a bagatelle, Rick said, considering what he could guarantee Tricia for the first three years.’
    • ‘Now, obviously, dyslexic old me is not suggesting for a moment that anybody should allow their self-expression to be circumscribed by such bagatelles as accepted usage.’
    • ‘Watching it, it's got all the fun of a murder mystery musical, but the undercurrent of aggression never lets it slip into the realm of a wispy bagatelle.’
    • ‘Compared with most large projects, this is a bagatelle, but the surreptitiously radical design that makes such poetic sense of the pixel is a gutsy move.’
    ornament, novelty, gewgaw, piece of bric-a-brac, bibelot, trinket, trifle, bauble, gimcrack, bagatelle, curio, curiosity, plaything, toy
  • 3A short, light piece of music, especially one for the piano.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘There's enough material here perhaps for a half-hour bagatelle, but Brooke fatally draws things out well beyond that.’
    • ‘Its relatively thin texture and short length make this bagatelle accessible for intermediate- or early- advanced-level students.’
    • ‘Today's bagatelle is a familiar tune played by The Torero Band featuring the arrangements of Moorhouse.’
    • ‘The few boos - a traditional Pesaro bagatelle, methinks - that met the curtain-call were, however, unmerited.’


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