Definition of mode in US English:



  • 1A way or manner in which something occurs or is experienced, expressed, or done.

    ‘his preferred mode of travel was a kayak’
    ‘differences between language modes, namely speech and writing’
    • ‘Surgeons also need to decide the mode or manner in which laser energy is delivered.’
    • ‘In this uncurtailed version we are able for the first time to experience the full impact of his mode of speech.’
    • ‘Our results show that these four translation proteins have experienced different modes of evolution.’
    • ‘He looked at the expeditions' objectives, countries of origin, leaders' experience, funding and modes of travel.’
    • ‘The majority of teaching staff are comfortable communicating in either language in all modes.’
    • ‘Another problem was how quickly the ‘primitives’ began to adopt European modes of dress, language, commerce, and social mores.’
    • ‘For hundreds of years, composers have argued over what's the best way to represent music on the page, and many have experimented with weird new modes of notation.’
    • ‘They were obviously spending more time online than they had with me around, learning new languages and modes of thought.’
    • ‘Different modes of travel created new requirements in luggage design.’
    • ‘The symbols in this book range from those employed in processions or parades, to festivals such as Hallowe'en, to language, and to modes of dress.’
    • ‘When did we no longer appreciate that to dignify certain modes of behavior, manners, and ways of being with artistic representation was implicitly to glorify and promote them?’
    • ‘The mode of experience I employ here is no different than that of an atheist scholar.’
    • ‘In four distinct but related modes of expression, the types of behaviour examined in this essay illustrate the fundamental importance of the public/private ethical boundary.’
    • ‘From the point of view of a cognitive scientist, who looks at modes of thought, there are six basic types of progressives, each with a distinct mode of thought.’
    • ‘Anticipatory fear has two distinct modes: anxiety, a preoccupation with an impending threat, and worry, the internal struggle to find a way to escape the danger.’
    • ‘Indeed, an artist's skill may to some extent have consisted precisely in the mastery of a variety of pictorial modes and languages.’
    • ‘Through ways of dancing, ways of looking, modes and topics of speech, the body is marked by the boundary and signifies boundary violation.’
    • ‘The scrapped scheme, which entitled eligible residents to travel on numerous modes of transport, was replaced last year by a statutory half-fare bus pass.’
    • ‘Figures also showed that 72 per cent of commuters outside London used cars to get to work, with buses the preferred mode of travel for two-thirds of those using public transport.’
    • ‘Selected for and shaped by evolution, language has, most importantly, led to a new mode of evolution.’
    manner, way, fashion, means, method, system, style, approach, technique, procedure, process, methodology, modus operandi, form, routine, practice
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    1. 1.1 An option allowing a change in the method of operation of a device, especially a camera.
      ‘a camcorder in automatic mode’
      • ‘Various extra little windows make specific options and view modes readily available.’
      • ‘The slow shutter is very useful under low lighting conditions, while the macro mode allows you to capture an image as close as 10 cm to 60 cm away.’
      • ‘Much of the work would be using the camera in Manual mode and demonstrating the different effects that the photographer can produce.’
      • ‘Now put the camera in manual mode and fix the shutter at 1 / 125th and the aperture at f11.’
      • ‘Random mode allows you to set up a course of fire and then just let it run.’
      • ‘Pulsed mode allows a short cooling period between pulses and does not create as much unanticipated thermal spread and subsequent tissue destruction.’
      • ‘Most good printers have a standby mode that allows them to sleep and save energy when not actually printing.’
      • ‘The unit can also be set to an autocycle mode, which allows the machine to be set in tenth-of-a-second increments up to 5 seconds for automatic cycling.’
      • ‘While the temptation may be there to force the camera into an editorial mode, they allow the characters to carry the story.’
      • ‘It can also operate in a silent mode, alerting security personnel with a flashing light.’
      • ‘Passive mode locking allows the device to produce near transform-limited pulses and to be compact and simple.’
      • ‘I play around in manual mode, looking for the perfect combination of composition, shutter speed, and aperture.’
      • ‘The machine has three modes of operation: automatic, semi-automatic and interactive.’
      • ‘In manual mode, drivers can go up or down gears without depressing the clutch.’
      • ‘This time our bugbear is the switch that allows you to alternate between playback, camera, movie modes.’
      • ‘In a home environment, where there are no network servers, Wi-Fi Protected Access runs in a special mode, which allows the use of manually entered keys or passwords instead.’
      • ‘It also looks like they have really thought about the ergonomics of this camera, controls are much more logical and changing modes and options is much easier.’
      • ‘When it was in automatic mode you didn't notice the gear changes.’
      • ‘There was one instance when the system was switched to manual mode due to a jammed ticket, and left in manual mode in error.’
      • ‘The best part of the surprise was that not only had I taken these photographs on my own, but I also had taken them with the camera in manual mode.’
      function, position, operation, role, capacity
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    2. 1.2Computing A way of operating or using a system.
      ‘some computers provide several so-called processor modes’
      • ‘It allows these applications to run, without recompilation, under a 64-bit operating system in long mode.’
      • ‘Virtually any UNIX or Linux system will compile SISAL code in single processor mode.’
      • ‘Major modes redefine how keystrokes operate, usually the Tab and Delete keys.’
      • ‘Software interrupts are interrupts produced by a program and processed in kernel mode by the operating system.’
      • ‘In addition to the control, the web pages display information about network settings, operating mode and system status.’
    3. 1.3Physics Any of the distinct kinds or patterns of vibration of an oscillating system.
      • ‘Here particles such as electrons are seen as vibration modes on strings.’
      • ‘Measuring the frequency of vibrational modes using infrared spectroscopy reveals the molecular fingerprint of the compounds in a sample.’
      • ‘All the known particles of nature are just different modes of vibration of the string.’
      • ‘The physical scalar fields that oscillate as normal modes about the potential minimum are the massless angular mode and the massive radial mode.’
      • ‘But when they perturbed the rotating liquid with a pencil, they found that the circulation pattern could flip between distinct modes.’
    4. 1.4Logic The character of a modal proposition (whether necessary, contingent, possible, or impossible).
    5. 1.5Logic Grammar
      another term for mood
  • 2A fashion or style in clothes, art, literature, etc.

    ‘in the Seventies, the mode for activewear took hold’
    • ‘In changing times, therefore, one must re-evaluate traditional rules, styles, modes, and genres.’
    • ‘Its great achievement is to recover the complexity of a literary mode that could easily be dismissed as vindictive, petty, and obscure.’
    • ‘Once inside, the bedrooms will turn out to be, like the whole hotel, in the mode of plush Vogue Regency.’
    • ‘But even Stalinist modernisation was not incompatible with older architectural modes.’
    • ‘The bridesmaids wore Hawaiian-print dresses, a fashion mode echoed in the groomsmen's shirts.’
    • ‘Longer length gloves, covered with cuff bracelets in the mode of Breakfast at Tiffany style will have a place worn with three quarter or elbow length sleeves.’
    • ‘The weekly Rainfall report will similarly change from the summer mode to winter fashion.’
    • ‘Art Deco, however defined, never aspired to be more than a new look, a fashionable mode of decoration.’
    • ‘The prophetic is a literary mode long associated with Romanticism.’
    • ‘It is possible to argue that York, like Aachen, was a city with imperial pretensions, with modern new buildings in the classical mode, and fine objects decorated in fashionable new styles.’
    • ‘In so doing, it anticipates realism as a literary mode.’
    • ‘Unless investigative literature is afforded some artistic space, how can this type of literature mode survive and develop?’
    • ‘Seeking to transfer the realist mode of literature to German soil, he rejected the naturalism associated with figures such as Gerhard Hauptmann.’
    • ‘It is plausible that this tendency in memoir literature reflects the corrective mode of the middle class through which it tried to vindicate its self-image.’
    • ‘To promote the boycott, they believed, was also to raise consciousness about socially-responsible and stylish modes of non-silk fashion.’
    • ‘It would be great if this swing in taste could also help raise the profile of artists who have long been working in the newly fashionable mode.’
    • ‘The dictionary as a mode of literature is the antithesis of automatic writing, that disembodied burbling of the unconscious.’
    • ‘He worked in a variety of styles, often parodying modes of both traditional and modern painting.’
    fashion, vogue, current style, latest style, style, look, trend, latest thing, latest taste
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  • 3Statistics
    The value that occurs most frequently in a given set of data.

    • ‘Various measures of central tendency and dispersion were calculated, including the mean, median, mode, standard deviation, and skew.’
    • ‘Figure 4 shows mean and standard error of the mode, or most common, vessel length for the series of apple rootstock and scion varieties.’
    • ‘Estimates of the median and of the mode of the distributions agree (up to two decimal places) with estimates of the mean.’
    • ‘Weighted average time values for each mode are derived as follows.’
    • ‘However, for distributions that are highly skewed toward small values, the mode can be very difficult to estimate.’
    • ‘Genotype and allele frequencies were calculated from the mean of the 100 nearest values to the mode of the posterior distribution.’
    mean, median, midpoint, centre
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  • 4Music
    A set of musical notes forming a scale and from which melodies and harmonies are constructed.

    The modes of plainsong and later Western music (including the usual major and minor scales) correspond to the diatonic scales played on the white notes of a piano. They are named arbitrarily after ancient Greek modes: Ionian (or major), Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian

    • ‘Byrd and Bull freed themselves from the old ecclesiastical modes, or ancient scales.’
    • ‘That relation appears in countless images of Krishna playing the flute to cowherds, in the narratives that accompany Indian modes, or ragas, and iconography used to depict divine love.’
    • ‘The tonality of the piece and the printed signature result from the scale or mode the composer has used during composition.’
    • ‘His musical language is spare in style, its melodies and harmonies based on old church modes and the pentatonic scales of Finnish folk-music.’
    • ‘The mode then changes to the major for the extensive closing section.’


Late Middle English (in the musical and grammatical senses): from Latin modus ‘measure’, from an Indo-European root shared by mete; compare with mood.