Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one bagatelle or multiple bagatelles.)
Literally, a bagatelle is a little object that is not expensive and not important. Figuratively, a bagatelle is anything that doesn't matter too much.
How to use it:
Literally, call something a bagatelle if it's a decorative little object, as in "Bagatelles cluttered Grandma's mantel." You also call something a bagatelle if it's kind of cheap and unimportant, as in "The joke's on whoever stole my Claire's shopping bag--it was full of only bagatelles."
Figuratively, talk about a chore or a task being a bagatelle if it really wasn't a big deal. You can say that an amount of money you had to spend was a bagatelle if it really wasn't that much. If you want to insult something important, call it a bagatelle: you mean that it's way less valuable and important than people might think.
She bought a bagatelle--a miniature tea set. "It's something for me to dust," she said when her husband asked what it was for.
After over a year of painstaking research and revisions to my thesis project, entering the hundred-plus data points for each survey participant was a mere bagatelle to me.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You'll know you understand what "bagatelle" means when you can explain it without saying "knickknack" or "unimportant."
Think of something (either a task or an amount of money) that seemed like a really big deal to you when you were younger, and fill in the blanks: “_____ is a bagatelle to me now, but when I was (age), I would _____.”
Example about a task: “Putting away the laundry is a bagatelle to me now, but when I was a teenager, I would do anything to avoid that tedious chore.”
Example about an amount of money: "A dollar is a bagatelle to me now, but when I was six, I would marvel at the possibilities of the crisp green dollar that Aunt Bea had given me at the country club after church."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don't go straight to the review now;let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month's game is "guess the common word based on the given literal root meanings." Try it out each day and see the right answer the next day. It can be fun and illuminating to see the literal meanings of words when they came into the language! More than one right answer might be possible in some cases, just so you know. Also, it's okay if you can't come up with most or even any of the answers on your own; just check out the solutions and you'll learn the roots as you go along this month.
"out" + "mark" = ?
Try this one today:
"away" + "drag" = ?
A Point Well Made:
G. K. Chesterton: "There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds."
1. The opposite of BAGATELLE is
A. LITTLE TRIFLE
B. LARGE PURSE
C. EXPENSIVE OBJECT
2. It was a bagatelle, really, to _____.
A. wait ten extra minutes when I'd already been patient for three hours.
B. see the pieces of the shattered statue litter the ground.
C. rack up massive student debt over a period of six years.
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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