À la carte

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For other uses, see À la carte (disambiguation).
For the custom car, see Ala Kart (custom car).
Steak à la carte

À la carte /ɑːləˈkɑːrt/[1] is an English language loan phrase meaning "according to the menu."[2][3] It was adopted from French in the early 19th Century and refers to "food that can be ordered as separate items, rather than part of a set meal."[4]

The phrase is 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, where a menu has limited or no choice of items and is served at a fixed price.[5] It may also be used to order an item from the menu on its own, e.g., a steak without the potatoes and vegetables is steak à la carte.

History[edit]

The earliest examples of à la carte in writing are from 1816 for the adjectival use ('à la carte meal', for example) and from 1821 for the adverbial use ('meals were served à la carte').[2] These pre-date the use of the word menu which came into English in the 1830s.[6][7][2]

Other uses[edit]

More broadly, the term is not exclusive to food. Today, it can be used in reference to things such as television. To watch television à la carte refers to paying for a provider where the viewer can choose from an option of programs to watch (i.e. Netflix or HBO), instead of watching from set programs.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A la carte". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b c Oxford English Dictionary
  3. ^ "à la carte – definition of à la carte in English from the Oxford dictionary". oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  4. ^ "à la carte – definition of à la carte in English from the Oxford dictionary". oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  5. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  6. ^ Richard Bailey, Eating Words, Michigan Today, 13 May 2008. Archived May 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Menu, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Houghton Mifflin
  8. ^ "A-la-Carte Cable TV Is Basically Here (It's Just Not on Cable) – The Simple Dollar". The Simple Dollar. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]