See more synonyms for mode on
  1. a manner of acting or doing; method; way: modern modes of transportation.
  2. a particular type or form of something: Heat is a mode of motion.
  3. a designated condition or status, as for performing a task or responding to a problem: a machine in the automatic mode.
  4. Philosophy.
    1. appearance, form, or disposition taken by a thing, or by one of its essential properties or attributes.
    2. (in the philosophy of Spinoza) one of the nonessential qualifications of God, contingent upon other modes.Compare attribute(def 9).
  5. Logic.
    1. modality(def 3).
    2. mood2(def 2).
  6. Music. any of various arrangements of the diatonic tones of an octave, differing from one another in the order of the whole steps and half steps; scale.
  7. Grammar. mood2(def 1).
  8. Statistics. the value of the variate at which a relative or absolute maximum occurs in the frequency distribution of the variate.
  9. Petrography. the actual mineral composition of a rock, expressed in percentages by weight.
  10. Physics. any of the distinct patterns of oscillation that a given periodically varying system can have.

Origin of mode

1250–1300; Middle English mod(e) (< Old French) < Latin modus measured amount, limit, manner, kind, tone
Can be confusedmode modulemode mood

Synonyms for mode

See more synonyms for on
1. See method.


  1. fashion or style in manners, dress, etc.: He was much concerned to keep up with the latest mode.
  2. a light gray or drab color.

Origin of mode

1635–45; < French < Latin modus; see mode1

à la mode

[ah luh mohd, al-uh-; French a la mawd]
  1. in or according to the fashion.
  2. Cookery.
    1. (of pie or other dessert) served with a portion of ice cream, often as a topping: apple pie à la mode.
    2. (of beef) larded and braised or stewed with vegetables, herbs, etc., and served with a rich brown gravy.
Also a la mode, alamode.

Origin of à la mode

Borrowed into English from French around 1640–50 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mode

Contemporary Examples of mode

Historical Examples of mode

British Dictionary definitions for mode


  1. a manner or way of doing, acting, or existing
  2. the current fashion or style
  3. music
    1. any of the various scales of notes within one octave, esp any of the twelve natural diatonic scales taken in ascending order used in plainsong, folk song, and art music until 1600
    2. (in the music of classical Greece) any of the descending diatonic scales from which the liturgical modes evolved
    3. either of the two main scale systems in music since 1600major mode; minor mode
  4. logic linguistics another name for modality (def. 3), mood 2 (def. 2)
  5. philosophy a complex combination of ideas the realization of which is not determined by the component ideas
  6. that one of a range of values that has the highest frequency as determined statisticallyCompare mean 3 (def. 4), median (def. 6)
  7. the quantitative mineral composition of an igneous rock
  8. physics one of the possible configurations of a travelling or stationary wave
  9. physics one of the fundamental vibrations

Word Origin for mode

C14: from Latin modus measure, manner

à la mode

  1. fashionable in style, design, etc
  2. (of meats) braised with vegetables in wine
  3. mainly US and Canadian (of desserts) served with ice cream

Word Origin for à la mode

C17: from French: according to the fashion
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for mode

"manner," late 14c., "kind of musical scale," from Latin modus "measure, extent, quantity; proper measure, rhythm, song; a way, manner, fashion, style" (in Late Latin also "mood" in grammar and logic), from PIE root *med- "to measure, limit, consider, advise, take appropriate measures" (see medical). Meaning "manner in which a thing is done" first recorded 1660s.


"current fashion," 1640s, from French mode "manner, fashion, style" (15c.), from Latin modus "manner" (see mode (n.1)).

a la mode

1640s, from French à la mode (15c.), literally "in the fashion" (see mode (n.2)). In 17c., sometimes nativized as all-a-mode. Cookery sense of a dessert served with ice cream is 1903, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mode in Medicine


  1. The value or item occurring most frequently in a series of observations or statistical data.
  2. The number or range of numbers in a mathematical set that occurs the most frequently.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

mode in Science


  1. The value that occurs most frequently in a data set. For example, in the set 125, 140, 172, 164, 140, 110, the mode is 140. Compare arithmetic mean average median.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

mode in Culture


In statistics, the most frequently appearing value in a set of numbers or data points. In the numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 4, 9, 6, 8, and 6, the mode is 6, because it appears more often than any of the other figures. (See average; compare mean and median.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.