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M.O.'s are also used to describe non-criminals. An m.o. is simply the way someone does things - it's a habitual action or process.

  I concur. Anyone want to add this info? I might do it myself if I get some time. Sycocowz 00:31, Oct 21, 2004 (UTC)

"Almost always used in abbreviated form MO"????????

That is just not true.

I added the non-criminal info, and changed "sometimes abbreviated" to "often abbreviated". This brings up a question about Wikipedia wording. Since I only know usage in the US, and at that just the Middle Atlantic region, could I have worded that better than "in the US"? I certainly don't mean to be US-centric, but I also don't want to say some word usage is commonly done when I don't know beans about usage in other English-speaking places.
Oh, and also I linked to the statistics meaning of mode rather than the disambiguation one, since I assume that's where the meaning in this case comes from , as in "most common". Spalding 15:00, Feb 19, 2005 (UTC)
I think that mode shouldn't really be linked at all (except maybe to the wiktionary page) because the meaning of the word "mode" in "mode of operation" is more like method, I don't think it has anything to do with the statistics meaning, and none of the other pages on the disambiguation page seem to be relevant either. Jackjasmine 13:34, 10 June 2007 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with June here. Modus operandi is a Latin expression that has been adopted into English and essentially has the meaning of "method of operation" Linking it to an article on the statistical concept of mode doesn't make a whole lot of sense. (talk) 04:52, 31 August 2009 (UTC)[reply]
I have always translated Modus as mode. Method and mode do not have the same meaning. In the vernacular, when people use MO today, I believe that method is the best word to use. However, that does not mean that the translation most closely matches original Latin. A capuccino machines has two modes: making espresso and frothing milk. The method for both is the same (steam), but the modes are quite different because of the intent. In the legal arena MO is referrring to the process a criminal uses (breaks in the second story, steals only jewels, leaves by the back door, etc.) A mode however, would describe the criminal's basic intent, such as theft, arson or murder. Words can take on different meanings based on their context or within a commonly used phrase. However, I wonder if we have any examples of modus operandi used in antiquity that might shed some light on it's original meaning. Where's Erich Auerbach when you need him? Ryan (talk) 16:31, 7 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

I agree that the term is used more generally (educators, coaches, sports teams, parents, consultants, ...). Consider rewording the second sentence to something like

The term refers to the approach taken by one or more individuals (e.g. an organisation) in achieving their goals.

i.e. remove the phrase "particularly in the context of business or criminal investigations". This also removes the word "habits" as one's modus operandi is generally more conscious. - kt (talk) 08:50, 10 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Complaint about removed text


DreamGuy, you have a lot of nerve to speak so dogmatically without paying the slightest bit of attention to logic and reasoning. Why don't you explain your behavior of just deleting my explanation and putting a simple one liner that has no relevance to the real business of Wikipedia or any other encyclopedia- helping people to understand. Your criticism of the definition given- that it seemed more an argument might have had relevance if that is all it did. I'm not going to keep on changing the definition; you just can't seem to care about what's really important- giving visitors to this page a REALLY clear idea of what an M. O. is - a potentially unclear term. [unsigned, but comments left by anonymous user]'

Yes, it is an unclear term, but your additions did not clear it up any more, they actually got it wrong. They also were written in a non-encyclopedic style. For both reasons they were removed. If you get upset and start tossing out insults every time someone edits or removes something you added to an article, you will find that Wikipedia is not for you, as having other editors changing and disagreeing with edits happens constantly. DreamGuy 20:11, Mar 22, 2005 (UTC)

I didn't insult you. You did not produce a single authoritative reference or logical arguement that justified your actions. Hence, I said you were acting dogmatically. Non-encyclopedic style? Content and clarity are the only essential elements to encyclopedic style. Maybe you just didn't like it. Perhaps, Wikipedia is not for YOU if your edits consist of simple deletions and declarations ("...your additions... actually got it wrong"). Yes, M. O. is about frequently used procedures, but it is also used in our english-speaking culture for the purpose of getting an understanding of a person's thinking. That's why one would use the expression, "M. O." outside of the criminal realm instead of that easier to produce word that you keep using to define it. If it's all about habits, would one use the term, M. O. out the simple need for a synonym? I really don't think so. This arguement might emphasize the evolution of the term, but the value of Wikipedia is that it is not limited to the original definitions of terms; it also recognizes current usage. You should know that. If we were to limit ourselves to original definitions, why use Wiki when you could go to a well-respected source like http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=modus+operandi&x=0&y=0 ?

I'm sorry, but your claims that MO is used to describe thinking is just plain wrong. You haven't provided any sources for it, so asking me to provide a source to disprove it is pointless. In fact your link to the dictionary entry proves you wrong. Wikipedia has a policy against neologisms, which is exactly what you are trying to do when you want to include some new definition you think the word has based upon your faulty understanding of it. DreamGuy 23:01, Mar 23, 2005 (UTC)

Why do you refuse to use logic or provide documentation? I've done both. Can you at least agree that you haven't done either? You're sorry? Who cares? You're not an authority here! Wiki has a policy against neologisms? No. It is listed as one of the rationales used in deleting something. I quote (something you have yet to do):

"neologism" is a shorthand for "The word or phrase used is not well-established enough to merit a Wikipedia article." This may be either a literal neologism (a new word which is simply not well-established) or a vanity neologism (a word coined in a small community but not used outside it). The article may need to be renamed or simply deleted.

The page continues to explain that it comes to a vote and that, basically, neologisms are considered invalid if they are are simply not popular enough. It comes down to opinion. You may remember the term, sniglet, used in the 80s for invented words. Neologisms can refer to new meanings given to existing terms, and I can see having a problem with that if in the particular situation someone is attempting to impose a truly limited definition of the word or term. I don't think my use of the term is limited to me. I realize that's my opinion, which implies that I realize that my side might not survive a vote, but, on the other hand, I have this concept of M. O. because of all the times I've heard or read it from people who used it to convey a person's inner process. I also don't believe I'd ever use M. O. to replace the word, habits, which is basically what you're proposing. Would you agree that you are proposing that? It would be nice if you answered directly the two questions in which I ask if you agree or not. If you choose to just give your negative opinion of my arguement and my definition without quotation or logic, it would be better if you didn't reply at all. Why are you so close minded? You're acting like such a "NO" person. You don't seem to have even considered the possible widespread use of this definition. You call yourself an all around nice guy? You haven't been nice once. [unsigned, but obviously same as above]

I'm going to have to give up here, because your arguments don't make sense. You claim to have shown a source, but the source you showed actually contradicted what you claim. You also apparently don't understand the policy that nbeologisms aren't allowed. There's no point in me just repeating what i already said, so I won't. But for the clear reasons given above, I will continue to prevent you from changing the meaning of the word by modifying the article to say something that just isn't so. DreamGuy 09:11, Mar 27, 2005 (UTC)

Man, I don't hate you. I'm just trying to get you off that pedestal you seem to have put yourself on and get you to see the validity in this evidently (at least, to me and the folks who have used it as such) helpful use of the term. Why don't you just talk to me? Here's your post:

I'm going to have to give up here, because your arguments don't make sense.

--> What argument in particular? Open it up. Show me.

You claim to have shown a source, but the source you showed actually contradicted what you claim.

--> Are you referring to the Merriam-Webster one? I already acknowledged what it said. I pointed out that it is really useless. There is no reason to bring an expression from a foreign language unless we can add to it something our own language doesn't already convey. I advocate simplicity ALWAYS and the avoidance of big or exotic terms if possible. You already know or have entertained the possibility, perhaps, that the essence of intelligence is not imposing the unintelligible on people.

You also apparently don't understand the policy that nbeologisms aren't allowed.

--> I really think that Wikipedia is open to the evolution of language as long as it is widespread enough. Where does it say that it isn't?

There's no point in me just repeating what i already said, so I won't. But for the clear reasons given above, I will continue to prevent you from changing the meaning of the word by modifying the article to say something that just isn't so. DreamGuy 09:11, Mar 27, 2005 (UTC)

--> Hey, c'mon. You know it isn't fun to keep on changing the definition. You're wise enough to admit to yourself, perhaps, that you don't want to keep on like that. What I wanted you to do or say was to acknowledge that, perhaps, an addendum to the definition is merited in, perhaps, the following form: "The term, M. O., and its current usage, suggests that it might also be used to explain the thinking behind a person's actions. Consider this example:

"Ronny always drove over the trash cans. His M. O. was that they symbolized the shallowness of western culture and that it was his job to make that evident."

I don't know if you'll acknowledge any validity in that, but you can feel secure that the Wiki article, Modus Operandi, is yours; I've got bigger fish to fry, and guess what? You do too. You're obviously way smarter than someone who would worry about something like this little online article. The "evolved" thing to do is to agree to disagree. I wish you peace and a happy Easter or Third Day or whatever you call it if you call it anything at all.


I don’t know how many might actually read this, but there are several good points here. Concerning Modus Operandi particularly, the original Latin usage may never be known exactly. However the simple breakdown definitions allow one to use this term however deemed necessary if within the confines of the original definition. Of course, it is proper to keep language simple and so if it can be said (or written) in a fashion that is more universally understood, then the more universal terminology should be used. One could say that should be the 'modus operandi' of the effective communicator. I had a thought just moments ago that spawned the notion to add to this text. Regarding the argument above, I feel as though possibly that both sides could win if a little extra effort was put into the ‘article’ page. I propose that following each 'definition' be included a source. In the particular case of my Mid Atlantic friend, I would have liked to see behind his contribution “(source: observed usage, oral and written, US Mid Atlantic Reg.).” This would have allowed the reviewer to see clearly that this definition is (at least until further validation) region specific. I believe that this would have appeased our good friend ‘Dreamguy’ a bit. Overall, I thought the ‘article’ page provided the desired information. I definitely would have liked to know up front the origin (or source) for each input, but I was able to find out through the ‘discussion’ page. I was disappointed, however, about the amount of non-related discussion that is posted on the discussion page (guilty as charged here). Sixty-five percent of this discussion is over proper Wikipedia usage (add/modify/delete) and whose head is bigger instead of constructive discussion about the term in question. BTW: Macro Evolution is a lie. God Bless. -tomtom



Doesn't this article have the plural and singular forms the wrong way around ?--Ordew 06:17, 1 November 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Nope, but in the plural "Modus operandi" operandi is in nominative, not genitive. This is grammatically incorrect and it should be modi operandorum. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:53, 5 September 2009 (UTC)[reply]

I wondered about that, so I checked in the OED, which says the plural is indeed modi operandi. Operandi is not a nominative, it's a singular genitive gerund[1]. There is no need to make it plural, just as in English we don't say *modes of operatings. --Heron (talk) 17:40, 22 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Can anyone include a cite to the OED? I see people arguing about this yet elsewhere on the internet. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:20, 3 November 2016 (UTC)[reply]

2007-02-8 Automated pywikipediabot message


--CopyToWiktionaryBot 07:11, 8 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Article started in 2003 & still has no good references


Dictionary or acronym reference are poor sources. Blogs (ethiopundit) are not good sources per WP:V. Maybe this is just a dictionary word if after nearly five years this is all there is. --Mattisse 18:54, 17 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

The distinction between MO and signature


I'm fairly confused by the section regarding the distinction between MO and signature. Can this be explained more clearly or simply? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Zixor (talkcontribs) 22:19, 30 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]

MO would mean the way someone operates, while signature refers to the trace or clue that tells someone or something has been there or happen before.ADouBTor (talk) 16:34, 2 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Poor wording


The article's definition "Modus operandi (plural modi operandi) is a Latin phrase, approximately translated as 'mode of operation' " uses the word "mode" to define the word "modus. Shouldn't the sentence read "Modus operandi (plural modi operandi) is a Latin phrase, translated as 'manner or way of operation' "?Lestrade (talk) 00:39, 19 October 2011 (UTC)Lestrade[reply]

Isn't operandi translated to operation. If we are to translate and define it should read "manner of performance." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:38, 5 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]



Could someone please explain why "mode of operation" is a backronym? Roundtheworld (talk) 11:41, 10 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

“M.O.” stands for “modus operandi”. “Mode/method of operation” has the same initials, so “M.O.” (which derived from the Latin term) could also stand for that. It’s a backronym because that’s not how it originated. — (talk) 02:08, 5 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]
As for how the article used the word at the time: That didn’t make any sense. Glad it was removed. — (talk) 02:15, 5 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]



Isn’t “modus operandi” common enough in English that italicization is unnecessary? This doesn’t seem to have been discussed here, so if there are no objections, I’ll take it upon myself to de-italicize it. — (talk) 02:12, 5 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Why an article?


Where is the value in having an article about a dictionary definition? — (talk) 02:24, 5 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]