Modus vivendi

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Modus vivendi is a Latin phrase that means "mode of living" or “way of life”. It often is used to mean an arrangement or agreement that allows conflicting parties to coexist in peace; in science or biology it is used to describe lifestyles.[1]


Modus means mode, way, method, or manner. Vivendi means of living. The phrase is often used to describe informal and temporary arrangements in political affairs, for example, if two sides reach a modus vivendi regarding disputed territories, despite political, historical or cultural incompatibilities, an accommodation of their respective differences is established for the sake of contingency.

In diplomacy, a modus vivendi is an instrument for establishing an international accord of a temporary or provisional nature, intended to be replaced by a more substantial and thorough agreement, such as a treaty.[2] Armistices and instruments of surrender are intended to achieve a modus vivendi.

Example usage[edit]

In Season 1, Episode 25, of Star Trek: The Original Series, entitled "The Devil in the Dark", Captain James T. Kirk used the term to describe a possible relationship between miners on a Federation planet and a rock tunneling indigenous species called 'The Horta'. He said, "Seems to me we could make an agreement, reach a modus vivendi, they tunnel, you collect and process, and your processing operation would be a thousand times more profitable."[citation needed] The term Modus Vivendi is in particular referring to the Anglo-French relations in the period from the end of the Napoleonic Wars until the more substantial Entente Cordiale of 1904.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Angus Stevenson (19 August 2010). Oxford Dictionary of English. OUP Oxford. pp. 1139–. ISBN 978-0-19-957112-3. 
  2. ^ "United Nations Treaty Collection: Definitions". Retrieved 19 May 2015. 

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