modus operandi

mo·​dus ope·​ran·​di | \ ˌmō-dəs-ˌä-pə-ˈran-dē How to pronounce modus operandi (audio) , -ˌdī\
plural modi operandi\ ˈmō-​ˌdē-​ How to pronounce modi operandi (audio) , ˈmō-​ˌdī-​ \

Definition of modus operandi

: a method of procedure the best approach … was to do things through quiet persuasion, which was his modus operandi— James Traub especially : a distinct pattern or method of operation that indicates or suggests the work of a single criminal in more than one crime got her picture identified, discovered her modus operandi, and put a stakeout on her neighborhood Time

Examples of modus operandi in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Engagement is the modus operandi of Harness, the nonprofit Ferrera and Williams founded in 2016. Rob Haskell, Vogue, "How America Ferrera Is Inspiring Celebrities to Get Political," 11 Feb. 2019 What remains to be seen is whether the administration’s modus operandi — with its theatrical bravado, grand gestures and guessing-game optics — can actually deliver a diplomatic win. Greg Jaffe, Washington Post, "Courting Kim and coming up short highlights the limits of Trump’s me-first diplomacy," 24 May 2018 The evidence-free accusation that illegitimate moneyed or foreign interests are corrupting her opponents and dictating U.S. policy is her modus operandi. Elliot Kaufman, WSJ, "Omar and the Conspiracy Democrats," 10 Mar. 2019 Medenblik has a similar modus operandi, using both Shopstyle and RewardStyle. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Who Are the Anonymous Users Running Instagram’s Most Famous Celebrity Style Instagram Accounts?," 19 July 2018 This feels right, given Mirren's modus operandi: doing what feels true to herself—and proudly, even if the outcome is a misshapen skirt. Caitlin Brody, Glamour, "Helen Mirren Is Done With Roles That Make Women 'Feel Shitty'," 20 Sep. 2018 If the-more-bubbles-the-better is your modus operandi in the tub, meet the creamy bath time elixir of your dreams. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Why a Hot Ginger Bath Is the Perfect Detox Ritual for Winter," 26 Nov. 2018 So, if seeing and being seen is your modus operandi, head to the Lower Manhattan hotspot and order—what else?—a Manhattan. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Just the Cocktails to Order When You Need a Drink During New York Fashion Week," 7 Sep. 2018 As the Weinstein bombshells continued, actresses like Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Salma Hayek came forward to share their own alleged experiences with him—detailing a modus operandi that the executive had seemingly used for decades. Julie Miller, HWD, "GLOW Didn’t Need Harvey Weinstein to Inspire Its #MeToo Moment," 29 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'modus operandi.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of modus operandi

1654, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for modus operandi

New Latin

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The first known use of modus operandi was in 1654

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modus operandi


English Language Learners Definition of modus operandi

formal : a usual way of doing something especially : the usual way that a particular criminal performs a crime

modus operandi

mo·​dus ope·​ran·​di | \ ˌmō-dəs-ˌä-pə-ˈran-dē, -ˌdī How to pronounce modus operandi (audio) \

Legal Definition of modus operandi

: a distinct pattern or method of operation especially that indicates or suggests the work of a single criminal in more than one crime

History and Etymology for modus operandi

New Latin, manner of operating

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for modus operandi Encyclopedia article about modus operandi

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What made you want to look up modus operandi? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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