Make Your Editor Cry: alamode or ala mode vs. à la mode

Make Your Editor Cry:  alamode or ala mode vs. à la mode

Like most editors, I’m sensitive to preserving the spelling of originally French phrases that the English language pillaged. In the French phrase à la mode, the accent mark (aka diacritical) over the first “à” is optional in English, although this is an adaptation of the French phrase “à la mode de” meaning “in the manner of” so adding the diacritical is appropriate.

How “in the manner of” equated to a scoop of ice cream atop your slice of pie? No idea. The ground truth is lost to history. However, if you offer a slice of pie à la mode on your menu, be careful not to spell it “ala mode” or—worse—“alamode.”

In English, the phrase à la mode spelled exactly like that spaced and all basically means something trendy, fashionable, or stylish. Or, you know, topped with ice cream.

Examples:

She took her apple pie à la mode with a healthy scoop of vanilla on top.
In a reversal of his longstanding support for a political movement that was once à la mode, the senator voted "no" for the bill.

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