à la mode 

French expression that literally means "in fashion". Used in English language since 1651 as such, meaning that something is modern, in style according to the latest trend. Especially used in clothes fashion - it first entered the Oxford English Dictionary as a textile term - and in gastronomy where certain ingredients can be à la mode. 

In American English it can also mean that something - usually pie - is topped or served with ice cream, e.g. strawberries à la mode. This meaning of the term comes from when ice cream was the new and trendy, and the expression was misinterpreted as something absolute, much like other French cooking terms like à la Provencale or à la King, and not relative.


This is an entry in the mini series about French idioms and expression in the English language.

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