Method, mode, manner, way, fashion, system are comparable when they denote the means taken or the plan or procedure followed in doing a kind of work or in achieving an end.
Method may denote either an abstraction or a concrete procedure, but in both cases it implies orderly, logical, and effective arrangements (as of one's ideas for an exposition or an argument, or of the steps to be followed in teaching, in investigation, in the treatment of a disease, or in any kind or piece of work); often, also, the term connotes regularity or formality in procedure.
Mode (see also FASHION 2 ) ( STATE ) is sometimes used interchangeably with method, but it seldom stresses orderly or logical arrangement; rather, it denotes an order or course pursued as the result of custom, tradition, or personal preference.
Manner is often used in place of mode where the reference is to a personal or peculiar course or procedure, or to a method, whether pursued by a number of persons or not, that seems to be individual or distinctive.
Way (see also WAY 1 ), the most general of these terms, may be used in place of any of the rest and is found in many familiar idiomatic expressions where theoretically method, mode, or manner might be more explicit.
Fashion differs from way not so much in denotation as in connotation derived in part from its commoner sense of style or vogue (see FASHION 2 ). The term often suggests an origin or source that is not so deep or a motivation that is not so abiding as those usually connoted by way; often also it is the idiomatic term in prepositional phrases introduced by after or in.
But fashion sometimes comes very close to mode when it means the way that is characteristic of or peculiar to a group or type.
System suggests a fully developed and often carefully formulated method.
As an abstraction, however, meaning orderliness or plan in arrangement or procedure, system is often preferred to method.