Beaux Arts Architecture in the Spotlight ( A title from an ACT test passage)

Based on Collins Dic, art is plural:

  1. N-VAR Thearts are activities such as music, painting, literature, film, and dance, which people can take part in for enjoyment, or to create works that express certain meanings or ideas of beauty
  2. N-PLURAL At a university or college, arts are subjects such as history, literature, or languages in contrast to scientific subjects.
  3. N-COUNT If you describe an activity as an art, you mean that it requires skill and that people learn to do it by instinct or experience, rather than by learning facts or rules.

I don't think the "Beaux Arts" fit into any of these category, but rather one type of genre. So why plural is used here?

  • 1
    But it is a direct adoption of a French term, n'est-ce pas? One would have to ask the French, perhaps. Nov 11, 2020 at 3:37
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    Indeed. The term "beaux arts" has been borrowed into English. Both words in the combination are French (even though one of them happens to be the same as the English word), and both are plural. No singular form has been borrowed into English. The singular would be "bel art", I think. Anyway, Lexico explicitly notes that the plural form "beaux arts" or "Beaux Arts" is used as a modifier ( lexico.com/definition/beaux_arts ).
    – rjpond
    Nov 11, 2020 at 18:04

1 Answer 1


This dictionary defines the French term:

Les beaux-arts sont la sculpture, la peinture, la gravure, l'architecture, la musique et la danse.

That includes six different activities under the term, and to top it off, the English translation is fine arts, a plural noun.

As to why beaux-arts architecture is called that, it has to do with the history of that particular school of architecture:

Wikipedia beaux-arts architecture

Beaux-Arts architecture was the academic architectural style taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, particularly from the 1830s to the end of the 19th century.

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