Mark Liberman at Language Log discovers a usage new to him and me:
In the September 6 issue of Nature, a verb caught me up short (Phileppe Claeys and Steven Goderis, “Solar System: Lethal billiards“):
A huge collision in the asteroid belt 160 million years ago sent fragments bagatelling around the inner Solar System. One piece might have caused the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
The only use I ever see for bagatelle is “a mere bagatelle”, with the occasional reference to Beethoven’s bagatelles. [...] So I looked it up.
The OED gives the first sense of bagatelle as “A trifle, a thing of no value or importance”, and sense 1.b. as “A piece of verse or music in a light style”. But then comes
2. A game played on a table having a semi-circular end at which are nine holes. The balls used are struck from the opposite end of the board with a cue. The name is sometimes applied to a modified form of billiards known also as semi-billiards.
So apparently for some people, bagatelling is roughly the same as caroming.
Isn’t that interesting? To my fellow Americans, that is; I guess my Brit readers are familiar with the ‘game’ sense. Or are you?