modus operandi


mo·​dus ope·​ran·​di ˌmō-dəs-ˌä-pə-ˈran-dē How to pronounce modus operandi (audio)
plural modi operandi ˈmō-ˌdē- How to pronounce modus operandi (audio)
: a method of procedure
the best approach … was to do things through quiet persuasion, which was his modus operandiJames 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 Rather than being an example of just another crass capitalist greedily bilking her fanbase, Bey’s true modus operandi seems to be mass empowerment. Hazlitt, 19 July 2023 The trio’s modus operandi was to scan the news and matrimonial ads for real-life wedding stories and incidents. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 30 Aug. 2023 In the past, full-time in-office work was the unchallenged norm, the default modus operandi for businesses worldwide. Gleb Tsipursky, Fortune, 21 Aug. 2023 Ever since Abbas Kiarostami’s And Life Goes On premiered back in 1992, movies set in cars have become the modus operandi of some of Iranian cinema’s greatest works. Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Aug. 2023 And, of course, to the two-time defending champion United States: Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe and all those newcomers, a group with sizzling star power and a bold modus operandi that has pushed the boundaries not just for female soccer players, but for all of women’s sports. Kurt Streeter, New York Times, 26 July 2023 His modus operandi is to take everyday objects and transform them into something beautiful—Bic pens into chandeliers, say, or Ugg boot soles into a couch. Elise Taylor, Vogue, 4 Mar. 2023 That’s often the modus operandi of veteran receivers who are looking for the smallest edges to get the best of their opponents. Steve Silverman, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2023 Phillips tells Rolling Stone that Sister Cindy’s modus operandi is reminiscent of how political and religious figures have begun mimicking internet trolling culture to further their talking points — and give them protection against criticism at the same time. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 6 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'modus operandi.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin

First Known Use

1654, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of modus operandi was in 1654

Dictionary Entries Near modus operandi

Cite this Entry

“Modus operandi.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Legal Definition

modus operandi

mo·​dus ope·​ran·​di ˌmō-dəs-ˌä-pə-ˈran-dē, -ˌdī How to pronounce modus operandi (audio)
: a distinct pattern or method of operation especially that indicates or suggests the work of a single criminal in more than one crime

New Latin, manner of operating

More from Merriam-Webster on modus operandi

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