Using "à la"?

tm8992

New Member
English/USA
I'm not sure if this would be considered English (I'm sure it's from another language, but I really don't know which it is (French?) and it's used in English a lot, anyway :p), but what is the meaning when people say "à la"? I looked all over - searched here, searched google, searched the dictionary - and I can't seem to find the answer.

I see it in magazines sometimes - writers say "à la this" "this à la that" - and I can never get the meaning :p

Sorry if this is common knowledge or a stupid question (and if it's in the wrong place, sorry about that ;))

Thanks!
 
  • loladamore

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hello and welcome to the forum!

    Yes, à la is used in some phrases in English, and yes, it is borrowed from French. This definition of à la carte might help to get you started in terms of how it is used. It usually means 'according to' but is sometimes used to mean that something is 'in the style of'.

    I hope that helps.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    I do not know the correct meaning but I am familiar with the slang use.
    If I cook a special chicken dish that dish will become known as chicken a la robert.
    It is used as a complimentary 'meaning in the style of'.

    .,,
     

    Brian P

    Senior Member
    à la is used to qualify something feminine e.g. à la carte and au for something masculine e.g. coq au vin. However, in common American usage à la is used regardless of the gender of what it is describing. For example you might hear "I did it à la John Smith" meaning that I did it the way that John Smith would do it.
     

    jimreilly

    Senior Member
    American English
    It is not at all a stupid question, tm8992, and it is in exactly the right place. And thank you, because I had never stopped to think that a form used only to apply to feminine nouns in French was used for any gender in English. So I learned something too.....
     

    languageGuy

    Senior Member
    USA and English
    "A la" (literally 'in the' or 'to the') is short for "a la mode" which means 'in the style.' So if a girl dresses a la Madonna, she wears clothing in the style of Madonna.
     

    Pixajo

    Member
    France - French
    As a Frenchman, I do confirm all the above, "à la" is definitely feminine as Brian P explained very well. It is actually used in French the same way, i.e. to mean "in the style of". In French though, it could also be used in other meanings, "à la carte" would be an example which actually means "on the menu".
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    à la is used to qualify something feminine e.g. à la carte and au for something masculine e.g. coq au vin. However, in common American usage à la is used regardless of the gender of what it is describing. For example you might hear "I did it à la John Smith" meaning that I did it the way that John Smith would do it.

    à la on menus is short for à la mode de = in the style of

    the au in coq au vin effectively means "cooked in".

    It's possible to have Coq au vin à la Beaujolaise = cock cooked in wine in the Beaujolais style.

    And Moustache à la Monsieur Poirot = moustache in the style of Mr Poirot
     
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