À la carte

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À la carte /ɑːləˈkɑrt/[1] is a French language loan phrase meaning "according to the menu", and used

  • in reference to a menu of items priced and ordered separately, i.e. the usual operation of restaurants. This is in contrast to a table d'hôte, at which a menu with limited or no choice is served at a fixed price.
  • to order an item from the menu on its own, e.g. a steak without the potatoes and vegetables is steak à la carte
  • to describe a retail pricing model in which goods or services traditionally bundled together are separated out, putatively giving the consumer greater choice at lower cost. Examples include airline pricing where in-flight drinks or snacks are not complimentary, on-line music purchasing where individual tracks can be bought instead of entire albums, or pay television where individual channels can be ordered rather than a bundle of channels.

The phrase was adopted into English in 1826, predating by a decade the common use of the French language loanword "menu".[2][3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "À la carte". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. 
  2. ^ Richard Bailey, Eating Words, Michigan Today, 13 May 2008.
  3. ^ Menu, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Houghton Mifflin

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