All These Little French and American Words…


Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

Today one word for the letter L

* or rather a short French expression used in France and in the USA but with a different meaning in each country




J’adore les desserts. Rapidement, en arrivant en Californie, je me suis rendue compte que je n’y connaissais rien en desserts américains. A part le cheesecake que je commandais toujours quand je mangeais aux Halles à Paris, le reste me semblait souvent trop gros et trop sucré. Cependant, comme je suis gourmande et curieuse et que rien ne vaut une expérience personnelle pour apprendre, je n’ai pas résisté quand j’ai lu sur un menu Pie a la Mode. A quoi pouvait bien ressembler une tarte a la mode? Ma tarte est arrivée.  Avec une généreuse boule de glace à la vanille servie au-dessus. Rien à voir avec un bœuf à la mode ou s’habiller à la mode. La surprise a disparu, mais l’expression est toujours là.


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A scoop of vanilla ice cream served on top of a slice of pie can be called a la mode and sound French but wouldn’t be understood in France.

Although a la mode is used in French cooking it’s only for the Boeuf à la mode, the French version of the American pot roast.

A slice of pie will be more likely served plain or eventually with a side of crème fraiche or crème Chantilly (similar to whipped cream) in France.

A la mode is also used to describe a fashionable trend in clothing but also for anything trendy.

Also à la mode in French has always an accent grave (on the left side) on the A.


Do you know of a French or English word starting with the letter L that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre L qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?

See you tomorrow with the letter M.


  1. J adore,:-D

  2. I like what this means in this country. Pie and ice cream were meant to be eaten together.

    If you’re still looking for a ‘Q’ word, how about Queue – We don’t really use it much in this country to describe a line, and I don’t know very many people who use it as a verb (we would just say ‘get in line’) but I do hear it used a lot in computer programming in reference to collections of stuff that gets acted upon by my program.

    It may not work, because I think we do understand it to be the same as the French and British, but I don’t think we think of ourselves as ever being in a queue.

    • I’m with you with the pie a la mode. It sounded intriguing when I didn’t know what it was. And I had to know. I’m not a big fan of cream (weird for a French native, especially because I am from Normandy, kind of Vermont for the French), but I adore ice cream.
      I agree with you with Queue. I really think you’re on the right track and I’ll probably take your offer. Yes, we never say that we are in a queue when we are in line. Plus in French this word has also other meanings. So THANK YOU!

  3. Fashionable trend was the one I was familiar with. Great insights, Evelyne

  4. Love the idea behind this series of posts – the ice cream a la mode makes the language lesson delicious!

  5. I love pie à la mode! I just had to look up the origin, though and I found this on Wiki: “Whoever put ice cream on a pie first is a topic of discussion without a definitive answer.[citation needed] What is known is that it was served at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, where some restaurant venue served slices of pie with a scoop of ice cream on top. The French saw it as audacious, and someone exclaimed in a French newspaper review: “How Modern!” (à la mode translates literally as “in the [current] fashion”). Americans took the name, and called the process of putting ice cream on pie (or anything else) as “à la mode”. Très intérssant, non? 🙂

  6. Huh, I guess I can’t use a la mode in France for my pie. Pretty tasty combo, though 🙂

  7. Del boy from the English sitcom, ‘Only Fools and Horses’ used to say ‘a la mode’ when something was particularly remarkable!

  8. how if a all is legerdemain used in France? I’m guessing the same – what a magician uses to trick us but also we would use it to mean someone was being cunning or tricky

  9. Same expression in French and same meaning, only spelled differently: Le léger de main. Thank you.

  10. I knew “a la mode” means “in fashion” because I studied French in high school and college. I always assumed that “a la mode” originally meant “in the French style”, but probably it was some restaurant that invented it to sell more ice cream with the pie 🙂

    • In a comment above, a blogger (jetgirlcos) who loves anything French explains what she read about the origins of the expression and I find it totally possible.
      You’re right about using some French-sounding names for business. It makes me smile because when it’s your native language and country it’s not as easy to see what’s so cool about it. In any case, thanks a lot for stopping by and commenting.

  11. I always thought this meant the same thing in both countries. So interesting that it’s totally different.

    • Funny, isn’t it? Same words but different meaning. To be frank this is this kind of words that gave me the idea for this challenge. Thank you for your visit and hello to Maine.

  12. I wonder if lance counts as a word with different meanings in the two languages. In UK English the verb is used in surgery, but I seem to remember it means to throw in French. @suesconsideredt from Sue’s Trifles
    and Sue’s words and pictures

    • Lancer in French is the verb that means to throw. Lance is the noun for spear. I know the term is used in English in surgery but based on my knowledge I don’t think it is in French. The word lancet is a surgical instrument, I believe.
      In any cas, I appreciate your comment and support to my little challenge, Sue.

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