[common] A general state, usually used with an adjective describing the state. Use of the word `mode' rather than `state' implies that the state is extended over time, and probably also that some activity characteristic of that state is being carried out. "No time to hack; I'm in thesis mode." In its jargon sense, `mode' is most often attributed to people, though it is sometimes applied to programs and inanimate objects. In particular, see hack mode, day mode, night mode, demo mode, fireworks mode, and yoyo mode; also talk mode.
One also often hears the verbs `enable' and `disable' used in connection with jargon modes. Thus, for example, a sillier way of saying "I'm going to crash" is "I'm going to enable crash mode now". One might also hear a request to "disable flame mode, please".
In a usage much closer to techspeak, a mode is a special state that
certain user interfaces must pass into in order to perform certain
functions. For example, in order to insert characters into a
document in the Unix editor
vi, one must type the "i" key,
which invokes the "Insert" command. The effect of this command
is to put vi into "insert mode", in which typing the "i" key
has a quite different effect (to wit, it inserts an "i" into the
document). One must then hit another special key, "ESC", in
order to leave "insert mode". Nowadays, modeful interfaces are
generally considered losing but survive in quite a few widely
used tools built in less enlightened times.